Tuesday, March 5, 2024

City lands on name for former Thermo Fisher building

Wilmington City Council voted to name 929 N. Front St., its new headquarters, Skyline Center. (Port City/Amy Passaretti Willis)

WILMINGTON — Welcome to Skyline Center. After the discussion was tabled twice, the city council finally decided what to call its new headquarters.

READ MORE: What’s in a name? Council split on branding for city’s new headquarters

The naming committee — comprising council members Clifford Barnett, Margaret Haynes and Charlie Rivenbark — was charged with coming up with a list of possible titles for 929 N. Front St.

The City of Wilmington purchased the building for $68 million in July and has slowly been moving its departments spread across the city into one space. By the end of the year, the city anticipates 81% of employees will occupy the building.

At the Nov. 8 council meeting, Barnett shared the committee proposed three names: Skyline, City Plaza and City Center. After discussion about the actual definition of the words — the building isn’t actually in the center of the city, a plaza implies an outdoor terrace, etc. — the board was split 3-3 on City Plaza versus Skyline.

Council member Kevin Spears was absent, so the members decided to table the discussion until the Nov. 28 meeting to give him a chance to weigh in.

Council member Neil Anderson rehashed his preference for Skyline: Since the building will already say “City Hall” above the front entrance, he said it seemed repetitive to have “city” in the name.

Rivenbark agreed and thought the building should have its own identity since it won’t be filled entirely by city offices. At least 120,000 square feet is available for additional tenants and Thermo Fisher occupies two floors, making up 317,015 square feet.

“With what’s happening with office space, this will most likely be the tallest building in the downtown area in our lifetime,” Anderson added. “I think Skyline is very appropriate.”

Haynes was adamant the building belonged to the taxpayers and therefore should have “city” in the title.

“I would just hope that we perhaps would give the citizens credit for making such a bold move,” she said.

Waddell, who wasn’t as vocal at the last meeting, voiced his opinion on “Skyline.” He said development that is imminent surrounding 929 N. Front St. could be of equivalent height to the 12-story former Thermo Fisher building.

City manager Tony Caudle confirmed per zoning regulations, the city encourages greater height and density farther north downtown, away from the historic district.

“I think we want to see buildings of that caliber go up there, you look 15, 20, 30 years, it should be the skyline of the city,” Waddell said. “To convey to the public and to anyone who’s looking to invest, what we would like to see, I think Skyline will outlast that and is the right way to move forward.”

Haynes said if the council chose Skyline, it needs something attached to it, such as “center,” or “building” — as a standalone word, it didn’t make sense to her.

“I think Skyline,” Spears chimed in. “But you know what, Margaret, you make a pretty case for Skyline Center as well — that kind of rolls over the tongue.”

He then made a motion for Skyline Center, which passed 6-1 with Haynes dissenting.

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