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Friday, May 24, 2024

Riverlights plans new ‘Town Center’ development with 22 buildings

Riverlights, a sprawling development in southern New Hanover County, is planning a new mixed-use development with apartments and commercial space on more than 10 acres of land. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

WILMINGTON — A massive planned community in Wilmington is eyeing its latest expansion.

READ MORE: Mayor considers potential transportation bond following Riverlights residents’ plea for improvements

Riverlights, a 1,359-acre development already home to a mix of apartments, houses and commercial properties, has new plans on the books for an expansion of its mixed-use development.

The planned project, dubbed “Town Center” will be built on 10.78 acres located at 4410 River Road. The site includes 22 buildings, mostly between three and four stories, housing 274 apartments and 23,800 square-feet of commercial space. The units include 132 one-bedroom apartments, 120 two-bedroom and 22 three-bedroom.

The development will have 519 parking spaces and 38 bicycle spaces. The site includes a clubhouse, pool, and several “tree save areas.” The preliminary plan shows tree removal where the buildings and parking lots will be placed with pockets of trees in aforementioned “save” areas. There will also be preserved trees along Sandalwood Way, the road leading into the development.

The plans have to go through a technical review process with city planning staff before proceeding.

Alabama-based Capstone Communities will develop the site on behalf of Riverlights owner Brookfield Properties. The expanding development is already home to for-sale houses, condos, townhomes and a mix of rental homes. Started in 2014, Riverlights hugs a section of the Cape Fear River west of the Silver Lake neighborhood.

Most of the project area has already been developed; the new site is located near the north entrance to Riverlights on River Road and adjacent to the Oasis apartment complex.

Plans for building out Riverlights continue as the city considers ways to improve traffic patterns in and out of the project. 

River Road is the main thoroughfare and means to exit the development. Port City Daily spoke to residents in June about their pleas for more traffic signals along the road and where the development connects to Independence Boulevard. Nearly 1,000 residents signed a petition asking the city to improve the road because of how difficult it is to leave the neighborhood at peak traffic hours. They said there are sometimes lines dozens of cars long trying to leave the development and pointed to continued expansion of Riverlights beyond the 2014 plan.

Their efforts got the attention of Mayor Bill Saffo, who pushed for road improvements back in 2014. Discussions of a new transportation bond, to include Independence Boulevard and River Road enhancements, is now in the works.

ALSO: Independence Blvd. improvements could be coming down the pipe earlier than expected

Larger improvements like a North Carolina Department of Transportation-led expansion of Independence Boulevard are more than a decade away, but in the meantime the city is considering adding a traffic circle.

Brookfield is working with Cape Fear Commercial on immediate improvements, as the developers move forward with Watermark, a 248-unit project. The city also expressed interest in building a sidewalk connection, an additional right turn lane and additional storm drains.

The city, Riverlights and Cape Fear Commercial are in the process of hashing out a deal to share costs and make needed road improvements as Watermark moves toward a groundbreaking.

More land within Riverlights marked for “future development” is all on the southern extreme of the property. Most of the area is generically marked, but Brookfield has already tapped the area for a 120-acre mixed-use village.

Currently 37 acres in that area are slated to become 7Bridge, a “commercial village,” which will be home to commercial space, rental cottages and apartments. 

Also in the works is a 180-rental unit senior living facility, “The Luminance,” which will be managed by ALG Senior. The independent living apartments, for 55 years old and up, are divided into two four-story buildings, each with 60 units, and adjoined by a clubhouse in the middle. The connecting structure includes an indoor pool.

The number of homes in Riverlights is now expected to top out at 3,350 housing units. The development currently has 2,700 homes.

There is also space for a potential public elementary school on the southern end, but the project is on hold.

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