After concerns were raised over the existing usage policy of the Hugh Morton Amphitheater at Greenfield Lake, a resolution amending it will come before the Wilmington City Council Tuesday night.
The current policy gives Cape Fear Shakespeare, Ltd. the exclusive use of the facility from the last Wednesday in May to the last day in June for their annual Shakespeare on the Green festival. The new policy would remove that exclusivity and allow concert promoters to hold four shows during this time period: two on a Friday or Saturday, and two on Sunday – Thursday.
The non-profit group, which performs the bard’s works for free to the community, has been a long-time tenant of the space and has been performing there since before the amphitheater, which has the capacity to hold 1,200 people, was renovated in 2008.
Due to their involvement in the revitalization of the facility and their long-standing partnership, the city blocked off those dates at the start of the summer tourist season for Cape Fear Shakespeare. As the outdoor facility has become a more popular venue for concerts, however, promoters have asked for dates in that coveted time period.
They argued that while they agree that free Shakespeare is an asset to the community, the city was losing revenue from the lack of rental fees (Cape Fear Shakespeare uses the facility for free and will continue to do so), ticket surcharges and concession sales (the city runs concessions for all events at the amphitheater except during the Shakespeare festival.)
The amendment is seen as a happy medium for the two sides.
“I’m happy that the city was able to reach a compromise,” said Beau Gunn, a managing partner for Huka Entertainment, which produces several concerts at the venue each year (including one featuring the legendary Willie Nelson this May). “I think the community as a whole will be the benefactor in this.”
Representatives from the Cape Fear Shakespeare are planning to comment on the issue Tuesday night during the public information session, but said they are excited for a new season.
“We look forward to the 2016 season of Shakespeare at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater and being able to continue fulfilling the most crucial element of our mission statement: to produce and present FREE Shakespeare for all,” said Aimee Schooley, a member of the organization’s executive board.
The item is on the council’s consent agenda.
Also on Tuesday night’s agenda are five public hearings. The first is a continuance on an ordinance to rezone 1.39 acres of land located at 1303 Airlie Road and a portion of 1308 Airlie Road from R-15 Residential District to Community Business Conditional District to allow for a 93-space parking lot as well as three single-family residences and a garage apartment. Part of the land is already a parking lot, serving the waterfront Dockside Restaurant that sits across Airlie Road.
There will also be a public hearing on the rezoning of 6.79 acres of land at 6037 and 6049 Wrightsville Ave. from R-15 Residential and R-10 Residential Special Use Districts to R-7 Residential Conditional District. Currently there are six duplexes and three single-family units that sit on one side of the property, for a total of 15 units. The same developers want to add seven additional duplexes (14 more units) across from the original buildings, which would bring the total to 29 residences and increase the density to 4.27 units per acre. The plan proposed by developers also includes 26 parking spaces and two proposed driveway accesses: one to the existing adjacent residential development and the other on Wrightsville Avenue.
Public hearings regarding the adoption of the Create Wilmington Comprehensive Plan, an ordinance allowing restaurants with drive-through windows within 1,5000 feet of a residential district and an ordinance granting or denying a special use permit to build a commercial parking lot at 1612 Medical Center Drive (across 17th Street from New Hanover Regional Medical Center) are also on the agenda.
To view the full agenda, click here. City council meets Tuesday night start at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall, located at 102 N. 3rd St.