Developers of Middle Sound Loop, Market Street shopping center get first OK toward city annexation

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Wilmington City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution that could allow the city to annex more than 12 acres of property for a proposed shopping center at the intersection of Market Street and Middle Sound Loop Road.

The developer, Halpern Development Co., is seeking annexation into the city for a 12.7-acre site with plans to construct a 72,000-square-foot retail shopping center an a 9,500-square-foot auto car center that would make up the future Ogden Market Place, according to Malissa Talbert, spokeswoman for the City of Wilmington.

But city council would still have to vote on the annexation, which would also require a public hearing beforehand. City staff will now begin to evaluate the annexation request to ensure consistency with state law and the city’s annexation policy, Talbert said.

“If [the annexation] is approved, then both the planning commission and the council would have to approve a zoning designation for the property, as well as a site plan for the development,” Talbert said.

If the annexation is not approved, the property would remain under New Hanover County’s jurisdiction.

If the property remains in the county’s jurisdiction, the developer would be subject to a one-year delay before being able to submit plans to the county again, “unless the proposal is substantially changed,” New Hanover County Planning Director Chris O’Keefe said.

“If the city denies the annexation request the developer could apply for a rezoning immediately as long as the proposal is substantially different from the proposal previously submitted,” O’Keefe said. “We would include the application on the next scheduled planning board agenda. Substantial changes could include differences in automobile and pedestrian traffic circulation, building location and orientation and/or the preservation of some of the site’s natural features.”

Related story: No word on grocery eyed for Ogden-area shopping center

SaveOgden.com, a community group of some Middle Sound Loop Road and other area residents, formed to address residents’ concerns about the size and scope of the project as proposed.

“We are not opposed to responsible development, and would welcome a plan that includes a smaller grocery store and saves the historic live oaks,” the grassroots group states on its website.

A representative from Halpern told Port City Daily earlier this year that a grocery store was planned for the site, but would not confirm whether it would be Florida-based Publix, which SaveOgden.com references multiple times on its website.