City readies for downtown redevelopment

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The Water Street Parking Deck, between Chestnut and Grace streets downtown. File photo by Ben Brown.
The Water Street Parking Deck, between Chestnut and Grace streets downtown. File photo.

In anticipation of the upcoming development of the Water Street parking deck, the city of Wilmington has combined five parcels of land at the location into one to help expedite the process.

“While we have yet to finalize any proposed plans for the development of this tract, it is quite likely that any redevelopment proposal will require the use of all, or portions of all, five tracts on which the deck now sits,” City Manager Sterling Cheatham wrote to the mayor and city council in his letter attached to the resolution to combine the land. “This proposed recombination will allow the greatest degree of design flexibility for redevelopment proposals.”

According to Asst. City Manager Tony Caudle, who presented the item to city council Tuesday night, the land the deck sits on previously had debts.

“Throughout the last calendar year, we worked to remove the debt that was on those pieces of property,” Caudle said. “The debt is free and clear and the property is ready to be combined.”

The parking deck, long considered an eyesore, will be torn down and replaced with a mixed-use development that will include residences, retail space and both private and public parking spots. The contract for the project was awarded a year ago to East-West Partners Management Company out of Chapel Hill.

In January, Wilmington City Council voted to extend the evaluation period for the site so the developer and city could iron out more details of both the sale of the land and the project itself. The extension is set to end on April 14.

The city would also sell air rights to build the high-rise development. East-West’s original proposal included 190 residences, 225 private and 280 public parking spaces and about 30,000 sq. ft. of retail space. The total cost of the project is estimated at $68 million, which will be shared by the city and the developer.

The resolution to combine the five parcels of land was passed unanimously by the Wilmington City Council without any discussion.

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