WILMINGTON – The opening of two large restaurants on Wilmington’s north riverfront should finally be back on track after a new agreement between the city and developers.
Plans for the two restaurants, the first Wilmington based outposts of Charlotte-based BlackFinn Ameripub and Vida Mexican Kitchen y Cantina, were introduced nearly five years ago. Since then, construction slowdowns have delayed the opening which was, at one point, planned for Spring 2016.
In January, Courtney Dooley, spokeswoman for BlackFinn Ameripub, told Port City Daily owners were looking forward to a Spring opening in time for the Wells Fargo Championship, which will take place May 1-7.
“We’d love to be open in time for Azalea Festival, but the logistics aren’t quite right,” Dooley said at the time. “We do think we’ll be open in time for Wells Fargo. It’s going to be a great event for the whole city, and we think it’ll bring a lot of people downtown. So that’s a great time for us to be open.”
Both restaurants have since finished major construction, but have been delayed by an agreement made between the City of Wilmington and Northern Riverfront Marina and Hotel (NRMH), which owns the restaurants, and the limited liability corporation that will run Pier 33 and the bandshell attached to the pier (both NRMH and Pier 33, LLC are overseen by Wilmington-based USA InvestCo).
That agreement stipulated that Blackfinn and Vida would only receive the certificate of occupancy necessary to open for business if a permanent public bathroom facility was provided on site.
With several events scheduled for the week of the Wells Fargo Championship, NRHM petitioned the City of Wilmington to change the agreement to allow for an earlier opening.
The new agreement, approved unanimously by the city Tuesday, would allow NRHM to open its restaurants in time for the Wells Fargo events, provided there is public access to the restaurant bathrooms. The restaurants will have to post visible signs indicating the bathrooms were available.
NRHM would then have 90 days to install a temporary bathroom facility. NRHM would operate that temporary facility until the next building on USA InvestCo’s property was completed by either NRHM or another company which purchased land along the marina from USA InvestCo and agreed to the bathroom construction as part of the deal.
The city agreed to allow up to three years before a permanent facility, to be paid for by the developers and maintained by the city, must break ground. If this doesn’t happen, NRHM will have to pay the city $250,000, which is the estimated cost of a permanent facility.
According to Wilmington City Manager Sterling B. Cheatham, the agreement will “allow the city to meet its goal of providing these necessary public facilities in a more timely fashion while assisting the developers to meet obligations they have for forthcoming PGA events associated with the Wells Fargo Championship to be played in Wilmington in May of 2017.”
The City of Wilmington has placed the full details of the new agreement, including plans for the temporary bathrooms and expected hours of availability to the public, online.