Road work push from city could benefit Salvation Army’s move

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The Salvation Army hopes to sell its Third Street site in an effort to leave the burgeoning northern downtown area and expand elsewhere. Courtesy photo.
The Salvation Army hopes to sell its Third Street site in an effort to leave the burgeoning northern downtown area and expand elsewhere. Courtesy photo.

Wilmington officials have taken a step that could help the Salvation Army find a new, larger home.

During its regular monthly meeting earlier this week, city council adopted a resolution urging the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to push up the timeline on its planned extension of Scientific Drive.

According to the resolution, the project would provide safer access to properties near the Creekwood neighborhood. It would also improve safety on Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway by allowing the closure of the intersection at Kornegay Drive.

The extension of that roadway, near the Creekwood area, would also open up a direct route to the 22-acre campus where Salvation Army hopes to build, commander Maj. Richard Watts said.

A city spokesman said while that move was not on the council’s radar, the roadwork would open up the possibility for economic development in that N. 30th Street area in general.

Hoping to make a departure from its long-held locations at 802 N. Second St. and 223 S. Third St—both now booming with new businesses and apartments—the Christian-based non-profit has looked at more than 20 possible locations, focusing recently on that site adjacent to the North Creekwood housing community.

“This is an area that has great need and where there’s ample property for us to expand,” Watts said in an earlier interview.

NCDOT has identified the extension of Scientific Drive as a future project, but city council’s resolution requests NCDOT or the N.C. General Assembly grant the funds necessary to get the $3.4 million roadwork underway sooner rather than later.

If all goes well, Watts said the North Creekwood site could be the home of a larger emergency shelter—that includes separate rooms for families—a worship area, a community center with a gym and room for after-school and enrichment programs and green space, such as a park and ball field.

“In this community, the Salvation Army has provided emergency shelter since 1901. Across the nation, the Salvation Army operates far more community programs but that is not something we have done here,” Watts said.

The sale of the Salvation Army-owned downtown locations would be used, in part, to fund the build-out of the new site, Watts said. He said the Third Street property is valued at roughly $2 million and the Second Street property, at about $650,000.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.