Correction appended: The original article referred to Brasfield and Gorrie as a local company. It’s actually a national firm with headquarters in Birmingham, Ala.
While the new Holly Hill children’s psychiatric hospital officially broke ground in February, it was not until April 8 that the city issued the requisite construction permit, allowing firm Brasfield and Gorrie to begin work on the 49,180-square-foot, $10.2 million project.
The new facility at 201 Michael J Smith Lane will relocate 60 acute psychiatric beds for children and adolescents from the current hospital, less than a mile away. After its planned opening in the fall, it will eventually expand to include a total of 80 beds.
The new children’s building will allow the main Holly Hill Hospital to house an additional 37 inpatient psychiatric adult beds. In its 2012 Certificate of Need Application for the project, Holly Hill noted that in 2009, “3,700 patients were placed on waiting lists for state hospitals because of a lack of available beds,” and that for the first six months of 2010, “the average waiting time for admission to state psychiatric hospitals was 2.6 days.”
Although the recent debate over the future of Dix Hill is often framed as city vs. state, a public park vs. a potential private development, there is a third voice in the matter – one which wishes to see the land restored to its initial use as a state psychiatric facility. While the likelihood of this third option happening is almost nonexistent, the argument does serve to shed light on the dismal state of mental health care both here in Raleigh and across the state.
The addition of less than a hundred new psychiatric beds at Holly Hill will not in itself alleviate the area’s lack of treatment facilities, but it does signal a step forward for a state that first began looking out for its residents’ mental health nearly 200 years ago. According to the book “A Haven on the Hill,” then-Governor James Iredell Jr. asked the 1827-1828 General Assembly to prepare a report on “an asylum for lunatics and idiots.” The State Hospital for the Insane, as it was initially known, opened at Dix Hill in 1856.
Downtown Raleigh will soon see the opening of two new food specialty shops – lucettegrace, a French pastry shop at 235 South Salisbury and Happy + Hale, a health-food café at 443 Fayetteville Street in front of Bank of America. Neither shop’s proprietors are new to the area – Daniel Benjamin was the pastry chef at Cary’s Umstead Hotel and Tyler Helikson previously operated Happy + Hale as a downtown juice and salad delivery cart. Neither are skimping on the costs of renovation – $100,000 for the 900-square-foot Happy + Hale, and $308,700 for the 1,967 square-foot lucettegrace.
Whether potential patrons will prove to have a preference for buttered croissants or butternut squash remains to be seen.
Having noted the dearth of local breweries in downtown Raleigh, Storm Clouds Brewing has begun the final, $465,530 phase of its build-out at 126 West St., with an eye on opening its doors to the public in July. Storm Clouds will vie for downtown drinking dollars against Boylan Bridge Brewpub, Crank Arm Brewing, Natty Greene’s Pub & Brewing Company and Trophy Brewing Company.
Following last week’s approval by the Planning Commission of zoning case Z-4-14, a subdivision on the border of Raleigh and Cary, and Z-9-14, a mixed-use development on Friendly Drive off of Hillsborough, City Council this week voted with little discussion to unanimously allow both cases to proceed.
Council also held two evidentiary hearings for cases that had previously come before the Planning Commission.
The first was a request by the developer of a Walgreens at 9701 Leesville Road for an alternative means of complying with the city’s tree preservation ordinance. After some discussion and clarification from staff on the specifics of the ordinance, the variance was granted. Oddly enough, the lot in question was once used by Cranberry Tree Farm to sell Christmas Trees.
The second hearing was for SP-55-13, which would see the construction of a used-car dealership run by the sales arm of Enterprise Rent-A-Car on Glenwood Avenue in Northwest Raleigh. Although the Planning Commission approved the plan unanimously in February, a group of local residents appealed the decision on the grounds that it was in violation of the spirit of the city’s Comprehensive Plan. It was unclear, however, why anyone living in a residential neighborhood wouldn’t want their property bordered by a used-car lot.
“You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig,” argued Scott Lasso, the attorney representing the property’s adjoining residents. He added that there was a concern that Glenwood Avenue would “become the next Capital Boulevard – littered with used car lots.” What Lasso did not mention was that if used-car dealerships were the only thing littering Capital Boulevard, it would be a much nicer place. (I can say that—I live just off Capital.)
Matthew Rhoad, an attorney representing the applicant, described the dealership as a “small boutique; Not one of these large used car lots with the dancing blow-up guy.”
After more than two hours of testimony – which included some concessions on the part of Enterprise, including noise abatement tactics, Mayor Nancy McFarlane said she believed that the plan did not meet the necessary requirements for approval, although it’s possible she was just upset that there will be no giant, inflatable tube man to greet out-of-towners making their way down Glenwood from the airport to the Crabtree Valley Mall. The plan was approved by a vote of 5-2.