Water Street parking deck redevelopment on Council’s agenda Tuesday

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East West Partners' rendering.
East West Partners’ rendering.

Wilmington City Council on Tuesday will consider a resolution to move forward with a memorandum of understanding with Chapel Hill-based East West Partners for the redevelopment of the Water Street parking deck property.

In February, council selected East West Partners to enter into negotiations with the city to replace the structure, which council plans to demolish. A mixed-use development with residential housing and public and private parking is proposed for the site’s 1.22-acre footprint.

The city would sell air rights for development above the current structure, the cost of which will be determined by a city-approved appraiser, according to Malissa Talbert, spokeswoman for the city.

Related story: City council selects Chapel Hill firm for Water Street parking deck redevelopment

The total project cost is estimated at $61.9 million. The city was initially expected to pay $18.7 million, but Talbert said East West Partners will provide a cost estimate for the city’s proposed investments within 180 days.

East West Partners’ proposal includes 211 residential units, 225 private parking spaces and 280 public spaces, nearly 24,000 square feet of retail along Water Street and 6,300 square feet of retail along Bijou Park. The city would remain ownership of the parking deck and East West would lease or purchase the private lots, Talbert said.

“This is generally a non-binding agreement, but does lay out the path toward a binding purchase and development agreement,”  Talbert said.

Councilman Kevin O’Grady previously said the redevelopment of the parking deck site would “transform” downtown Wilmington.

“You bring that kind of volume of what has to pretty high-worth residences to come into the center of our downtown is going to change the character of the retail you see, the restaurants you see, the shopping you see,” O’Grady said. “It’s going to be a new downtown. And this is an important piece to solve that puzzle.”

Two people spoke against the current proposals at February’s meeting–Harper Peterson, former Wilmington mayor and downtown business owner, and Paul Lawler, president of Residents of Old Wilmington (ROW).

Peterson took issue with several aspects of the redevelopment process, chiefly what he considered a lack of transparency in the process to this point, as well as project costs and city money being spent on private ventures.

“I believe there are some fundamental problems with this project and this process,” Peterson said. “I thought we had heard loud and clear from the voters in this community in 2012 that we do not want public tax dollars used for baseball stadiums or any other private development for profit.”

Click here for Tuesday’s full agenda, which includes a budget presentation for the upcoming fiscal year.