Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Wilmington considers enhancing ‘curb appeal’ on major roads

What do you want Wilmington's major commercial roads to look like? The city is considering ways it could improve street frontage requirements that would increase pedestrian walkability and curb appeal.

This image was used as an example in a recent City of Wilmington presentation on different types of "street frontage," with Advanced Auto Parts on Oleander Drive having greater curb appeal than its neighbor. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Google Maps)
This image was used as an example in a recent City of Wilmington presentation on different types of “street frontage,” with Advanced Auto Parts on Oleander Drive having greater curb appeal than its neighbor. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Google Maps)

WILMINGTON — Should College Road have trees? What about sidewalks on Oleander Drive?

The City of Wilmington is looking for ways to make some aspects of its comprehensive plan a reality.

Related: After buying historic downtown house, residents now face violations for previous owners’ additions

Namely, street frontage on major thoroughfares. On Jan. 21, the city’s urban designer, Chase Anderson, gave Council a presentation on what it would look like to codify street frontage requirements in 2016 Create Wilmington Comprehensive Plan.

Increasing curb appeal

“Our goal here is to try to separate Wilmington from anywhere in the country,” Anderson said.

And to do that, Anderson described methods that would enhance Wilmington’s “curb appeal.” He cited continuing the appealing view of downtown from the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge into town at major commercial corridors. Market Street, College Road, Oleander Drive and Carolina Beach Road could all be re-imagined, Anderson said, to enhance the city’s image.

Street frontage requirements, meaning everything between the street and the face of a building, can be implemented in the city’s code to improve this impression. (Requirements including the setback of a building, landscaping, signage, and where parking is located all fall under street frontage.)

Ways to enhance curb appeal, according to Anderson, include landscaping that shields parking. He walked Council through different classifications of frontage, including suburban, semi-urban and urban frontage. In suburban frontage, deep building setbacks, pedestrian access, street yard landscaping, and modest signs are required, with parking veiled by trees.

Semi-urban frontage is slightly scaled back, and urban gives more leniency toward street yard landscaping and building setbacks.

As an example of frontage, Anderson showed a photo (pictured above) of two businesses on Oleander Drive. Advanced Auto Parts’ frontage includes pedestrian access, a slightly shorter sign and more enhanced landscaping compared to its neighbor.

Because the major commercial thoroughfares cited in the presentation are state-maintained, Anderson said the city would have less autonomy making requirements within the right of way.

Listen to the whole presentation here.


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