Tuesday, May 24, 2022

CenterPoint neighbors push back against proposed changes to Wilmington development

Residents of Cambridge Village are crying foul on recent plans submitted by the developer of the adjacent CenterPoint project to build two parking decks and an office building that would obstruct many of the residents’ views. (Port City Daily photo/Michael Praats)

WILMINGTON — When the developer behind the CenterPoint mixed-use project tried to convince neighbors they should support his plans, he touted the addition of restaurants and retail spaces as reasons why they should support it. But the latest proposed changes for the development have left nearby residents feeling like they have been lied to.

Cambridge Village sits adjacent to the property where CenterPoint will be located. It is a self-described ‘resort-style, retirement community’ apartment complex with 223 luxury apartments complete with spa and smoothie bar.

While the views from the apartment complex located off Eastwood Road are not as scenic as beachfront properties, the newly proposed change in plans for CenterPoint would call for sizeable parking decks 35-feet taller than the Cambridge Village — and residents are crying foul.

In a letter sent to David Swain, the developer of the project, residents expressed their concerns with the proposed changes.

“As residents of Cambridge Village, we are deeply concerned and distressed about your proposed changes to the adjacent planned development called Center Pointe. We have not been consulted about these changes, but we have recently become aware of the details,” the letter begins.

It is not surprising that residents only just found out about the proposed changes because even though the developer submitted an 18-page application to modify the conditional district zoning he was previously granted — not once in these documents did he outline the proposed changes. It was only after requesting information from the city did Port City Daily receive an idea of what was actually being requested.

It is worth pointing out that Richard Collier of engineering firm McKim and Creed was listed as the applicant who actually submitted the request, along with Jason Swain, because Collier also happens to be the chairman of the Wilmington Planning Commission. In the past, Collier has recused himself for issues involving McKim and Creed — however, he has declined to discuss how the commission, which has several members who work in design and development, deals with potential conflicts of interest.

Residents have two main complaints against the proposed changes. First, the height of the proposed parking decks.

“You now proposed to build two parking garages and an office building — all much greater in height than Cambridge Village — on land immediately adjacent to our complex. These massive structures will be 30-feet taller than Cambridge and adversely impact, not just the sight-lines from all the apartments on the east and south sides of our complex, but even more importantly, the character of our community,” the letter to Swain reads.

The second complaint is related to tactics used in 2018 by the developer to convince neighbors that the project was a good idea for them.

“When you sought approval for your project in 2018, you repeatedly referred to the additional planned restaurant and retail space as reason Cambridge residents should feel comfortable with the proposed development. Now, your proposed modification slashes the restaurant space by 45% and the proposed retail space by 30% in order to make room for bigger garages, more hotel rooms, and more apartments. You repeatedly pointed to the new restaurants and retail outlets as reasons we should not oppose your project. Now you need to live by the commitments you made,” according to the letter.

In total, 76 Cambridge residents signed the letters sent to Swain.

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