Thursday, February 29, 2024

Public-private River Place project aims to ‘make up as much time as possible’ after Florence

The city's public-private development has experienced several delays but hopes to make up for lost time.

Construction work has resumed on the City of Wilmington's ambitious public-private River Place project. (Port City Daily photo / Courtesy Fluent PR)
Construction work has resumed on the City of Wilmington’s ambitious public-private River Place project. (Port City Daily photo / Courtesy Fluent PR)

WILMINGTON — River Place, the city’s ambitious public-private project to replace the Water Street parking deck with a 12-story mixed-use development, will most likely see its schedule adjusted, again, but developers say they are working to make up “as much time as possible.”

The project was initially scheduled to begin in March of 2017, but demolition of the parking deck was delayed until November. East West Partners, the developers of the project, faced other delays as well, including its efforts to secure air rights and a financing loan.

The project has been on track since, but the record-breaking rainfall and flooding generated by Hurricane Florence is likely to force further schedule adjustments.

According to Lucien Ellison, East West Partners’ project manager for River Place, the abnormally rainy summer, followed by the protracted impact of Hurricane Florence, will have to be addressed.

In a letter to stakeholders, Ellison wrote, “I know many of you are wondering how this delay will affect the completion date of the project, and we are working with Barnhill [Contracting Company] to update the schedule. Between the 40 inches of rain Wilmington received over the summer and the drawn-out effects of Hurricane Florence, we might have some schedule change; but we will work hard to make up as much time as possible.”

The schedule change, Ellison noted, will be due to rain-related delays, not storm or flood damage.

“I speculated that we would get through the storm unscathed and without any damage to what’s already been installed. I am happy to confirm that this is indeed the case.  The project looks great, and crews are on site working again,” Ellison wrote.

Ellison also said River Place’s architect had designed a flood proofing system, capable of protecting the building’s first floor up five feet above the finished floor.

According to Ellison, water from the flooding of the Cape Fear in downtown Wilmington has been pumped out of the site and debris removed. Ellison said subcontractors for concrete, foundation work, and the general site were all back on site, and that the construction crane had been re-erected.

Ellison said the site is currently “buzzing” with activity.

The City of Wilmington has also run into several legal challenges related to eminent domain action taken to pave the way for the project. However, while several lawsuits are currently pending against the city, they do not appear to have impacted the construction timeline; the city currently expects the project to be complete in 2020.

Send comments and tips to Benjamin Schachtman at, @pcdben on Twitter, and (910) 538-2001.

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