Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Rezoning request could reshape city block from industrial to urban mixed-use

The rezoning request is not for a specific project per se but would allow for a mixture of uses potentially opening the door to new businesses to move into the area.

WILMINGTON — As vacant land runs out in Wilmington, developers are looking for ways to maximize existing properties and already-cleared locations, a process known as ‘infill.’ One such project has been proposed and plans are heading to the City of Wilmington’s Planning Commission soon for the project.

The applicant’s Patrick and Carol Carroll, are seeking the rezoning of eight parcels of land off Marstellar Road and South 2nd Street. The rezonings would change the properties from light industrial and R-3, to urban mixed-use (UMX).

The UMX district, as the name suggests, allows for a mixture of uses on the property.

Currently, five of the properties are zoned light industrial and three are residentially zoned — all three R-3 properties are vacant as are two of the light industrial.

On the three parcels that are not vacant, one contains a single-family home, another has a single-story commercial building, and the largest of them all has a large industrial building built in 1908.

The historic building has been used for the filming of a television series, according to the applicants, and has been generally used as office and warehouse space.

While infill frequently relies on the demolition of existing structures, according to the application, the 100-year-old-plus building can serve as the focal point for a new mixed-use district.

While the request does include all eight properties to be zoned UMX, there does not appear to be any specific plan for a mixed-use development. Instead, if approved, the properties, several of which have remained vacant for years, could be more readily utilized for a variety of uses.

Revitalization in the neighborhood

Infill opportunities can help the Southside region of Wilmington, according to the city’s own comprehensive plan. (Port City Daily/Courtesy City of Wilmington.

The area along South Front Street and south of Market Street has seen some revitalization in the past few years, but challenges remain.

“The area south of Market Street has experienced some revitalization in recent years, most notably on Castle Street and the conversion of a public housing development to market-rate apartments (South Front Apartments). Remaining challenges include: the presence of three large public housing complexes, high vacancy and crime rates, an abundance of derelict post-industrial sites, and numerous physical barriers to the Cape Fear River, commercial services, and adjacent neighborhoods,” according to the city’s Comprehensive Plan Growth Factors Report.

The report also gives guidance on how to address the challenges of the Southside including infill projects and revitalization.

If approved, the developers claim that the rezoning will have an overall positive effect on the neighborhood by encouraging new development in the UMX zoned district.

These developments could include neighborhood-scale commercial uses, residential uses, and retail.

The rezoning request will go before the Planning Commission in February, according to the city’s meeting schedule.


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