Landscape Architecture Magazine profiles DFI project

A rendering shows a remodeled brick building on the Broughton Hospital campus with people strolling the grounds.

When the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services unveiled plans for a new Broughton Hospital campus, it presented both a great challenge and immense opportunity for Morganton and Burke County, North Carolina.  The facility would be located near—and serve as replacement for—the historic Broughton Hospital campus, a psychiatric hospital originally opened in 1883.

The move would leave more than 600,000 square feet of vacant or underutilized space on the historic campus. Beginning in 2015, the North Carolina Department of Commerce enlisted the services of the Development Finance Initiative (DFI) at the UNC School of Government to study potential uses of the campus and craft a master plan to take the historic campus into the future.

“Former Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker and I were familiar with DFI and their projects in other communities; their reputation was excellent,” said Patricia Mitchell, former assistant secretary for rural development at the Department of Commerce and current School of Government Foundation Board member. “DFI brought everything to the table: knowledge, expertise, and the ability to create the capacity necessary to carry out the Broughton District.”

The resulting report presents a 10-year public-private development strategy that will aim to attract more than $180 million of private investment to 800 acres of campus and state property. Private projects include hotels, retail, housing, and an active adult community.

The project was recently profiled in a Landscape Architecture Magazine feature titled “The Big Deal.” Author Jared Brey explores the critical partnerships and local commitment to the project and its importance to the future of Morganton.

“Morganton is part of the Main Street America network, and the city has spent a lot of effort to revitalize its downtown, even moving its city hall offices into an old hosiery mill that was converted into a mixed-use apartment building on Union Street in the center of town. Morganton’s growth will be shaped by the redevelopment of the Broughton campus, and by the potential of getting land that has long been held by public entities onto the tax rolls.”  

DFI completed the Master Development Plan for the Broughton District in 2019 and over the following year advised the local governments and State of North Carolina on advancing the private development projects within the district, under the leadership of Senior Project Manager Eric Thomas. The program will continue to monitor progress of that project and support future phases of development if needed.

“Realizing private development within the Broughton District is not a straightforward task.” Thomas said. “There were a multitude of complex issues taken into considerations. The project has been very valuable for both the state and local government stakeholders to understand the potential of this historic campus and the key partnerships needed to realize it.”

To read the full feature from Landscape Architecture Magazine, click here.

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