Old meets new: New restaurants, hotel planned for northern downtown

PortCityDaily.com is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

An architectural rendering of two new restaurants planned along downtown Wilmington's northern waterfront. Images courtesy USA Investco.
An architectural rendering of two new restaurants planned along downtown Wilmington’s northern waterfront. Images courtesy USA Investco.

An American-style eatery and an upscale cantina will soon be the latest additions to the burgeoning northern downtown area.

Anchoring the recently launched Port City Marina will be Blackfinn Ameripub and Vida Mexican Kitchen. Both restaurants–owned as a partnership between Charlotte-based Bar Management Group (BMG) and USA Investco, a Wilmington real estate development group–are slated to open in early spring 2016, according to Matt Rogers, marketing director for USA Investco. Blackfinn and Vida are in locations across the country.

Also in the works for what Rogers said is fast being referred to as “upper downtown” is Hotel Indigo, a chic 131-room high-rise building with a rooftop pool and lounge. Rogers said the nine-story hotel will be modeled after the original in downtown Asheville.

“I love the momentum that has started in that part of downtown Wilmington,” he said. “You’re going to have a pocket here that is one of a kind…It’s a whole different little area. We recognize that it’s still part of Wilmington, of course. And we love the downtown stuff but…we love seeing new buildings.”

Wedged along the historic waterfront between the Wilmington Convention Center and the city’s new Riverfront Park, Port City Marina had a soft opening just a couple weeks ago but already has some long-term slip rentals and housed about 50 boats over the July 4 weekend, Rogers said.

Blackfinn, described on its website as a “high-energy” pub, and Vida–offering specialty Mexican dishes and an extensive specialty cocktail menu–will abut the sprawling marina at the end of the downtown riverwalk.

“We’re really looking forward to having them here, and to having some events,” Rogers noted.

Port City Marina, located between the Wilmington Convention Center and the city's Riverfront Park, opened two weeks ago.
Port City Marina, located between the Wilmington Convention Center and the city’s Riverfront Park, opened two weeks ago.

Those events will be staged along a 27,000-square-foot concrete pier between the marina and the restaurants.

“The pier is kind of like an aircraft carrier in terms of its size so there are a lot of opportunities,” Rogers said.

Add to that the Indigo–which does not have a set timeline just yet but will be located between Brunswick and Hanover streets near PPD–along with a host of other new residential and commercial developments and Rogers said northern downtown is primed to become a thriving new spot.

Dewitt Carolinas has two parcels behind the marina slated for mixed-use development. Next to the park on Nutt Street is Sawmill Point, a 280-unit luxury apartment complex now under construction. And along the edges are the soon-to-be-opened Cape Fear Community College Humanities and Fine Arts Center and City Block Apartments, on the other side of Third Street.

“I think it’s amazing. You’ve got this historic city and an old historic downtown with all these old buildings. Then, you walk up here and look around and for 360 degrees, you’re looking at concrete and glass and modern buildings,” Rogers said. “It’s kind of that old meets the new thing. It’s exciting…with PPD, with Cape Fear Community College, with us, with the apartments…it already looks night and day different.”

An aerial photo shows the location of the marina and the 27,000 square foot concrete pier. The grassy area, above the marina and to the right, will be the site of the planned Hotel Indigo.
An aerial photo shows the location of the marina and the 27,000-square-foot concrete pier. The grassy area, above the marina and to the right, will be the site of the planned Hotel Indigo.

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