Work now underway on ‘largest neighborhood in the city’

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Construction crews have ushered in a sign of what's to come along River Road, the site of a sprawling mixed-use development that will include more than 2,500 residences. Courtesy photo.
Construction crews have ushered in a sign of what’s to come along River Road, the site of a sprawling mixed-use development that will include more than 2,500 residences. Courtesy photos.

A sprawling, long-planned mixed-use development is now taking shape along River Road.

Construction began earlier this month on Marina Village, the collection of businesses and residential units that will anchor RiverLights. Earlier this week, developers and city officials broke ground on the Lake House, the aptly named lakefront clubhouse.

With a pool, playground and gym overlooking a 38-acre freshwater lake, the clubhouse is one of the amenities Newland Communities’ latest development is boasting ahead of summer 2016 home sales. Newland has similar mixed-use neighborhoods across the country including three in North Carolina, located in Wendell, Chapel Hill and Raleigh.

The Wilmington project, more than a decade in the making, is a 1,400-acre spread along the Cape Fear River behind the Monkey Junction area. When built out, RiverLights will contain approximately 2,500 single family and multifamily homes, townhomes, and condominiums, according to spokesperson Noelle Omer.

Following the first groundbreaking at RiverLights earlier this month, city leaders joined developers and construction crews Wednesday to break ground on the development's clubhouse.
Following the first groundbreaking at RiverLights earlier this month, city leaders joined developers and construction crews Wednesday to break ground on the development’s clubhouse.

The Mayfaire-esque concept is actually in size and scope larger than both that Eastwood Road development and the nearby gated community, Landfall. Last year, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo touted RiverLights as the “largest neighborhood in the city.”

Marina Village and an adjoining green space and park will serve as RiverLights’ “hub of activity,” Omer noted. The 112-slip marina complex will also feature restaurants, pubs and other local businesses amid a collection of townhomes.

Also planned for the three-mile stretch of property is an age-qualified neighborhood, a crab dock, event lawn and nature trails that lead to the river. In addition to the scattered small businesses, a number of offerings, including several parks and an event lawn, will be open to the public.

In preparation for the planned construction, Wilmington City Council annexed the tract back in 2009, but the project was delayed due to a downturn in the economy. In 2013, city leaders approved Newlands’ request to increase the residential density at RiverLights to its current maximum of 2,790 homes ahead of the River Road relocation. Newland purchased two miles of the roadway from the city for $2.75 million.

That phase, completed in December, involved a realignment and repavement of a portion of the road that runs from Carolina Beach to the International Port, as well as the addition of roundabouts, street lights and landscaped medians.

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

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