Monday, April 15, 2024

Wilmington, WMPO approve traffic impact analysis for Galleria development on Wrightsville Avenue

The future of Wrightsville AVenue is tied up with state funding, the massive Galleria redevelopment project, and potentially City of Wilmington involvement.(Port City Daily photo / Benjamin Schachtman)
The future of Wrightsville Avenue is tied up with state funding, the massive Galleria redevelopment project, and potentially City of Wilmington involvement. (Port City Daily photo / Benjamin Schachtman)

WILMINGTON — The long-planned Galleria project on Wrightsville Avenue took a step forward recently, as the city of Wilmington and other agencies approved the Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) for the mixed-use development.

On July 15, the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO) notified Charlotte-based WSP, the engineering firm contracted by Galleria developer State Street Companies, that the revised TIA for the project had been accepted. The TIA was also reviewed and approved by NCDOT and the City of Wilmington.

According to the WMPO, the project is approved for the following land uses set forth in the TIA:

  • Up to 225 dwelling units Multi-Family Housing
  • Up to 40,000 square feet of office space
  • A 20,000 square-foot athletic center 
  • A 90 Room Hotel
  • Up to 35,000 square foot of retail
  • A 12,500 square-foot “quality restaurant”  
  • A 12,500 square-foot “High Turnover (Sit-down) Restaurant”

The TIA notes that the developer has requested a number of road improvements, primarily to Wrightsville Avenue, including reconstructing the road as a “median divided facility” from Military Cutoff Road to the far end of the Galleria property.

Other improvements include possible modifications to the intersections between Wrightsville Avenue and Military Cutoff to the west and Eastwood Road to the east. There is also a proposal for a roundabout at the midpoint of the property where, across from the project, the partially gravel Jones Road meets Wrightsville Avenue.

The approval of the TIA will allow the Galleria project to proceed, although developer Jeff Kentner has previously noted that without improvements to Wrightsville Avenue — essentially a private-public project to turn it into a “complete street” — State Street Companies won’t be able to go ahead with the current plan for the Galleria project. Under the current zoning regulations, State Street could also develop a less elaborate project — an alternative Kentner has suggested if roadway improvements are less comprehensive.

State Street has submitted a Roadway Improvement Agreement (RIA) to the city, detailing how the city, NCDOT, and the developer could share the cost of designing and constructing roadway agreements before Wilmington took over the street from NCDOT. Mike Kozlosky, WMPO executive director and Wilmington transportation planning manager, said that – after the approval of the TIA – the city would work on its own cost estimate and evaluate the potential agreement; Kozlosky noted nothing had yet been agreed to.

A long road to the Galleria

The TIA approval represented the furthest along the Galleria project has come so far, although the city has been working for years to facilitate the development.

Related: City Council vote is latest step in paving the road for Wrightsville Ave ‘Galleria’ project

The development, which Kentner has said is based on Wilmington’s own 2011 Wrightsville Sound Small Area Plan (the city’s policy guide for development in the area), has required a number of steps to consolidate the necessary parcels; these included annexing the property from Wrightsville Beach, Wilmington making payments to Wrightsville Beach to compensate it for lost tax revenue, creating a new urban mixed-use (UMX) designation and rezoning the property, rezoning the Melrose mobile home park, and arranging to demolish the current Wrightsville Avenue ABC store and build a new one at the former Melrose site on the eastern side of the Galleria property.

If State Street were to change the plans for Galleria, it would require a revised TIA. Under the current TIA, the development could proceed with a construction date of 2025.

(Editor’s note: The proposed RIA for Wrightsville Avenue is a complicated issue in and of itself. Both Mayor Bill Saffo and developer Jeff Kentner have agreed to discuss the issue — stay tuned for a follow-up article with their comments, plus an in-depth look at the RIA itself.)


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

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