Update: This story has been updated for clarity and to include comments by community services director Amy Beatty.
WILMINGTON — Wilmington is looking to rezone under-used properties it has owned since the ’50s and ’60s.
Approximately 9.5 acres currently owned by the city in the Northside community are set to be reviewed by the Planning Commission on Feb. 7 to be rezoned to Urban Mixed Use (UMX).
The change is part of a 14-year effort to prevent crime and revitalize the Northside community.
To rezone the properties, the city submitted a case summary to justify why rezoning was necessary.
The case summary includes a 2003 objective to determine the “feasibility of providing a resource facility within 10 years with recreation, education, vocation, rehabilitation and community meeting space opportunities.”
As reasoning to rezone the properties, the summary also includes the following statement:
“To preserve the existing buildings on site for futures uses such as community service-related nonprofit agencies and including the possible development of affordable housing.”
The site is currently home to youth development non-profit DREAMS of Wilmington and Community Boys’ & Girls’ Club. The two standing youth centers would not be redeveloped or replaced, according to city spokeswoman Malissa Talbert.
Resource center or affordable housing?
Though the case summary cites the development of a new resource center as justification for its proposal, Wilmington’s community services director says it does not plan to build one.
“The city is not planning to develop the site into a resource center,” Amy Beatty wrote in an email. “The city desires to dispose of the buildings at the addresses listed in the rezoning request in accordance with a resolution adopted by City Council on Jan. 17, 2017.”
The city may, however, sell the land to a nonprofit that could redevelop the land to a resource center or affordable housing.
The resolution Beatty is referencing was passed last year so that the city could take steps to “include workforce/affordable housing as criteria in request for proposals for projects developed on city-owned real property.”
This resolution permitted the city to own or acquire land that may be desirable for development for “affordable” residential use.
While the rezoning proposal includes mention of a “possible development of affordable housing,” it also rates using the site for single-family residential units as having “modest non-support.”
“If the rezoning passes, the properties would be subdivided and the city will accept proposals from interested nonprofit organizations to operate programming from the buildings (likely similar to what you would see in a resource center),” Beatty wrote. “The city will not own the buildings any longer.”
Northside Community Plan
This move is an extension of a long-term plan in the works for over a decade. In 2003, the city adopted the Northside Community Plan to enact a “neighborhood revitalization strategy.”
Fourteen years later, goals from the initial plan are still being addressed.
The 2003 plan states, “another concern in the NorthSide community is people ‘hanging out’ on street corners, which may contribute to drug activity.”
To be reviewed early next month, the rezoning proposal includes a similar goal to prevent crime and assist at-risk youth.
“The NorthSide community must work together with (the) entire community (toward) providing incentives that will get youth off the streets and pointed in a more positive direction,” the resource proposal states.
If rezoned on Feb. 7, the proposal would be reviewed by City Council on March 6.
Flip the card below to see the proposed resource center compared to a Google Maps aerial view of the current property in the Northside community.