Friday, June 21, 2024

Opponents, county to hold meetings on project that could relocate Cape Fear Museum

One of the potential designs for Project Grace would include moving the Cape Fear Museum downtown (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY NEW HANOVER COUNTY)
One of the potential designs for Project Grace would include moving the Cape Fear Museum downtown (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY NEW HANOVER COUNTY)

WILMINGTON — New Hanover County has responded to residents’ complaints regarding the proposed relocation of the Cape Fear Museum to Downtown Wilmington for what is being called Project Grace. The initial presentation by the county offered four different options for redevelopment, one of which would move the museum downtown, and cost the county $20 million. This option caused concerns with residents who will hold a community meeting tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. at the Main Libary in the New Hanover Room.

Stewart Moon, a member of the Renovate Not Relocate the Cape Fear Museum group invited county officials to the Downtown Readers Book Club meeting, which is intended to allow residents a chance to have their voices heard.

“We cordially invite all of you to a meeting of our Downtown Readers Book Club and other concerned citizens for a public discussion on Project Grace and its possible unintended effects … We believe this to be an opportunity to share how and why Project Grace seems to be such an imperative at this time and articulate how this decision was reached,” Moon said.

Moon has raised his concerns and confusion with why this option would be a choice considering it would cost the county the most amount of funding.

“Of course, the most puzzling questions can only be answered by the County Commissioners. Why would a body made up primarily of fiscal conservatives lean towards an option negating the revenue of Project Grace for two decades when revenue generation is supposed to be the goal?” Moon said.

Several county leaders have agreed to attend the meeting, including County Chairman Woody White, Jennifer Rigby of the strategy and budget office, and Commissioner Skip Watkins.

County Manager Chris Coudriet responded to the invitation stating there will be two public meetings held by the county to receive residents input on the project. Coudriet also implied there could be a possible fifth option presented that Commissioner Rob Zapple has been working on with county staff.

In a statement from the county which was released Monday morning, the county announced there would be two informational sessions on Sep. 18 and 19.

Coudreit said, “Anyone attending the sessions will have the opportunity to ask questions and make comments, and I expect some or all of the board will be in attendance.  We’re trying to create a forum whereby everyone gets a chance to express their opinions about the four options that have been published to date.  It will follow the same format as the public information sessions we used for the comprehensive plan.”

The county meetings will be held at both the Cape Fear Museum as well as the Downtown Library.

Michael Praats can be contacted via email at

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