Looking forward to 2020 with 5 major Wilmington projects in the works

SOUTHEAST N.C. — It’s the end of a decade and the region has seen plenty of changes in the 2010s, but now it’s time to look forward to what is coming in the new year (and new decade).

Wilmington and the Cape Fear region as a whole is seeing exponential growth so it should be no surprise that more development is planned for the area.

As Wilmington enters a new decade, take a look at some of the projects in the works around the growing city.


River Place

Artist rendering of the River Place development, currently under construction. Mellow Mushroom is the second confirmed restaurant tenant in the project. (Port City Daily photo / Courtesy Cape Fear Commercial.)
Artist rendering of the River Place development, currently under construction. (Port City Daily photo / Courtesy Cape Fear Commercial.)

One of the city’s first major public-private development will be completed in 2020 (providing everything goes according to the latest plan). The project has been in the works for years and has seen its share of setbacks, but it appears to be nearing completion.

The mixed-use development will consist of:

  • 25,633 square feet of commercial space including retail shops and restaurant and bar space, primarily on the ground floor
  • Approximately 171 residential units (for sale and/or lease)
  • 403 parking spaces, a minimum of 174 of which will be reserved for public use. The city’s cost to construct the new parking facility is estimated at $19.7 million, not to exceed $20.7 million
  • Residential units will “wrap” the parking deck on the Water Street side, masking view of the parking from Water Street
  • The facility will not exceed current zoning height restrictions of 132 feet

The property formerly housed the 2nd Street Parking Deck until its demolition, the ‘public’ portion of the project — that is, taxpayer-funded — will be for the new parking garage. The rest of the project is part of the private development.

Read more about the River Place development from the past few years here:

North Waterfront Park

An aerial rendering of the future North Waterfront Park (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY WILMINGTON)
An aerial rendering of the future North Waterfront Park. (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY WILMINGTON)

Another one of the city’s big projects is the North Waterfront Park project that finally broke ground at the end of 2019. The project was supposed to be well underway by now, but budget setbacks and weather delayed the project.

The park was part of the city’s 2016 Parks Bond — a $40 million bond for various projects — the largest of which was the North Waterfront Park.

But even with $20 million earmarked for the park, it turns out taxpayers are shelling out approximately 50% more than what they voted for when the bond was approved. City Council recently approved an increase in budget for the park bringing total costs to about $30 million.

The park will include numerous amenities, including:

  • Greenspace & lawns
  • A large concert venue & festival space
  • Shade trees
  • Playground
  • Splash Pad
  • Large plaza
  • Trails
  • Gardens
  • Natural areas

But even with the increase in funding the park will still not provide all of the amenities promised in order to stay within budget (they can be added later).

Read more about the North Waterfront Park here:

Project Grace

Plans for the development of Project Grace have been submitted to the county and now the developer along with the county are looking for public input on the plans (Port City Daily/Courtesy Zimmer Development Co.)
Plans for the development of Project Grace have been submitted to the county and now the developer along with the county are looking for public input on the plans (Port City Daily/Courtesy Zimmer Development Co.)

New Hanover County, perhaps, following the lead of the City of Wilmington also has plans to enter into a public-private development in downtown. But after facing criticism from both county commissioners and residents, the project was tabled — but it is still on the backburner.

The project would have relocated the Cape Fear Museum and rebuilt the downtown library along with retail and residential space. According to the county, the project is still being worked on by the Zimmer Development team, but no new plans have been shared with the county yet.

Military Cutoff Road

Construction off the I-140 Wilmington Bypass to connect the ongoing Military Cutoff Extension Project to the future Hampstead Bypass. (Port City Daily/Mark Darrough)
Construction off the I-140 Wilmington Bypass to connect the ongoing Military Cutoff Extension Project to the future Hampstead Bypass. (Port City Daily/Mark Darrough)

With all of the growth in the region, traffic conditions have also suffered. That is why the NCDOT is working on extending one of the main corridors in Wilmington — Military Cutoff Road. The NCDOT has faced its own budget shortfalls in the past, but luckily, the Military Cutoff Road Extension project has already broken ground.

The project, when completed, will connect the road with I-140 giving drivers access to a faster-moving roadway to get up and around Market Street. The project is slated for completion by 2022.

Castle Street project

The property is located on Castle Street, and is a former WAVE Transit facility. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Wilmington)
The property is located on Castle Street, and is a former WAVE Transit facility. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Wilmington)

The property located at 1110 Castle Street has sat empty for years. It was the former home to a Wave Transit bus depot that has since been vacated. The City of Wilmington had actually promised the property to the Wilmington Southside CDC for development, but after failing to come up with any viable plans for the land, the city changed its mind.

When it was first discussed, the city saw interest from several different organizations including Tru Colors — but when the time for requests for proposals came — only one group submitted plans. A development team that includes Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity asked the city to donate the land to it so it could create a mixed-use development that includes affordable housing, but city staff was hesitant to recommend this plan.

Eventually, the city agreed to give the development team six more months to come up with a plan for funding and designs for the land before making a decision.

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