Area officials break ground on downtown waterfront apartments

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Area government officials joined owners and partners of Sawmill Point, an upscale downtown residential community, for a groundbreaking at the Nutt Street site Monday. Photo by Hilary Snow.
Area government officials joined owners and partners of Sawmill Point, an upscale downtown residential community, for a groundbreaking at the Nutt Street site Monday. Photo by Hilary Snow.

A residential development with a nod to the Port City’s past–and an eye on its future–is taking shape along downtown Wilmington’s waterfront.

During a groundbreaking ceremony at the site Tuesday, city and county officials joined the owners and partners of Sawmill Point–the first upscale living community located on the eastern shore of the northeast Cape Fear River–to help celebrate the start of construction on the project.

The 280-unit apartment complex takes its name from the property’s function, for hundreds of years, as a sawmill along the river.

Paraphrasing a line from Jackie Gleason, City of Wilmington mayor Bill Saffo said “how sweet it is to see this project get off the ground.”

Saffo noted that Sawmill Point, 1015 Nutt St., will be yet another welcomed addition to the fast-growing northern downtown landscape, noting nearby PPD, the expansion of Cape Fear Community College and the planned riverfront park as other major contributors to that area’s growth.

“They have all added to the vibrancy…of our community and our region,” Saffo said.

Beth Dawson, vice chairwoman of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, agreed.

“We recognize that what is good for downtown Wilmington is also good for the economic presence of the whole community and the whole county,” she said.

Once complete some time in 2016, Sawmill Point will include one- and two-bedroom apartments ranging between approximately 700 and 1,400 square feet, with amenities like fitness and yoga centers, an outdoor swimming pool and access to an adjacent 42-slip marina.

It will sit on an 11-acre site once owned by Dean Hardwoods. Chuck Dean, who closed his business five years ago to retire and sold the land, said Sawmill Point is something he envisioned for the area years ago as he looked from his office out onto the riverfront, adding that he and his wife “hoped to be among some of the first residents.”

“We had a very simple mission and a very simple vision for this property,” Blair Booth of Sawmill Point said. “We wanted to connect to the history. We also wanted to connect to downtown Wilmington…and make this a place that would connect young professionals with retirees and empty-nesters at the pool, the park and along the river walk.”

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6341 or hilary.s@hometownwilmington.com.