WILMINGTON — City council unanimously approved Tuesday a nearly $5 million property purchase to guide development in northern downtown.
“Acquiring this property, the city will have in its portfolio another economic development asset,” economic development director Aubrey Parsley told council.
READ MORE: City approves $1.3M to help Salvation Army start construction near new facility
The Salvation Army Cape Fear, current owners of 820 North Second St., publicly advertised the location for sale last year. Over the summer, the city of Wilmington put the 1.88-acre property under contract.
The city manager entered into a purchase and sale agreement on July 28, placing $30,000 in an escrow account to be held until closing.
Following a six-month due diligence period, including property inspection and legal research, the city has agreed to pay $4.8 million for the lot.
An additional $10,000 will cover closing costs, due diligence items, and operating costs for the remainder of the fiscal year. Closing is slated for next week, Jan. 18 or 19.
City spokesperson Dylan Lee said the city doesn’t plan to use the facility for its own services. Instead, it wants to own the land to “ensure that the site develops in a way consistent with downtown revitalization and redevelopment.”
“The property acquisition is consistent with the city’s aim to help guide development in northern downtown,” he said but did not provide specific plans.
Council members did not respond to a request for comment on how they would like to see the property developed.
The purchase agreement comes with a 90-day lease back period to allow the Salvation Army time to relocate its personal property and coordinate with our nonprofits to “ensure continuance of services as much as possible,” Parsley said.
Council member Charlie Rivenbark inquired as to whether the nonprofit has a plan in place to supplement its service.
“My understanding is they have been working with their cohort of nonprofits to make sure a continuance of services is available for the population they serve,” Parsley said, however he did not know the details as he had not been involved in those conversations.
Rivenbark wanted to offer an extension to the 90 days if plans do not come to fruition.
The building on site, currently used as a shelter for Salvation Army, underwent recent repairs following damage caused by Hurricane Florence in 2018. However, the space is not sufficient for the nonprofit’s growth. Salvation Army’s current space accommodates about 32 individuals; plans for an expanded location would fit nearly double the number of people.
Salvation Army purchased 22 acres at 1120 N. 30th St. in 2016 for a little more than $1 million to relocate its two downtown locations and expand services.
Director Maj. Ken Morris told Port City Daily last month the future complex is still years out, but architects are working to finalize plans before receiving approval by the corporate office.
The Center of Hope Shelter and Corps Community Center will comprise a larger emergency shelter, worship area, community center with gym, room for afterschool enrichment and greenspace.
Morris said construction funding must be raised locally. The money from the sale of North Second Street will be used to offset costs.
Once the property closes with the city, Salvation Army’s social services will move to the Harrelson Center and the shelter will temporarily shutter until the new campus opens.
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