BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Homebuilders continue to see dollar signs in Brunswick County, where three proposed developments of substantial size will soon be debated publicly at a meeting of the planning board. This latest round of potential projects comes one month after the board considered an even bulkier list of proposals.
The three projects will enter the public arena when the planning board meets Monday, June 14. Collectively, the proposals represent more than 2,500 lots set to consume more than 1,250 acres of Brunswick County land.
“As far as what’s driving it,” said senior planner Marc Pagés, speaking on the recent surge in developer interest, “gosh, beyond the real estate market just exploding right now, it seems everywhere, I really couldn’t put my finger on just one or two things.”
Developers appreciate the already-installed water and sewer infrastructure in Brunswick County, which most new projects are able to easily tap into. In New Hanover County, by contrast, much of the rural territory in the north is barren of such utilities, meaning that developers frequently foot the bill for the extensions themselves.
What’s more, Brunswick County’s attractiveness to retirees and beachtowners who value tranquility means the market for single family homes continues to be robust. While New Hanover County leaders consistently stress a desire for density — meaning townhomes and other multi-family offerings — single family projects on tracts of hundreds of acres are still a staple piece of the Brunswick building scene.
The pockets of multi-family construction, Pagés said, are concentrated in the suburban areas, like Leland or near the state border around Calabash and Carolina Shores, rather than the barrier islands along the Atlantic Ocean.
Read below for details about the three projects scheduled for public hearings at the Monday meeting of the planning board, which will be held at the Brunswick County government center.
Staff have recommended that all three projects be approved.
Specs: 351 single-family lots; 96 multi-family units; 214 total acres
Location: Southport-Supply Road
Owner: Land Limited, LLC (Anthony Ambrosio)
The Avalon project was approved in 2005 but suffered setbacks amid the Great Recession. “During the economic downturn a decade ago, Avalon was partially completed with some lots sold to individuals and the remainder of the property foreclosed on by multiple banks,” according to the application.
The latest request from the project’s developers involves an ask for only seven additional lots on a portion of the site; the new proposal rearranged the acreage that was originally intended as the park to yield a few more single-family lots. The site plan still includes 73 acres of open space.
At an earlier time, a civil lawsuit was launched in relation to the ownership of the land. Gary Lawrence, an attorney for Anthony Ambrosio, the owner of Land Limited, LLC, told Port City Daily, “It was simply a dispute among the owners and potential owners of Land Limited.” The national development company D.R. Horton scored a win during the period of economic turmoil; Horton bought “the southern portion” of the tract, which is nearing completion now, according to the application.
Specs: 1,796 single family lots; 363 townhomes; 45 acres of commercial space; 1,009 total acres
Location: Thomasboro Road and Old Georgetown Road
Owner: Stone Farm Investment, LLC (Odell DeCarol Williamson)
Tracts of this size are a rarity among development applications in Brunswick County, and are virtually extinct in New Hanover County. Stone Farm is a mammoth project located south of Highway 17. Beyond the 1,000 acres included in the Brunswick County application, an additional 128 acres of this developer’s land are located within the Town of Calabash, meaning that portion will be subject to a separate regulatory channels.
The owners hired an Alabama firm, Criteria Development, which has a large portfolio of previous N.C. projects, to represent the project’s interests. The company partners with D.R. Horton.
According to the application, 743 acres of the developers’ land is “currently part of a Wetland Mitigation Bank,” and a conservation easement prevents construction in those areas.
“It’s very rare for some of these large developments to not have significant wetlands or undevelopable areas on them,” Pagés said.
Specs: 90 single-family lots; 110 townhomes; 47 total acres
Location: River Road (N.C. 133)
Owner: 133 Investments, LLC (Bill Cameron)
Ricelands is an amalgamation of different parcels brought together via Bill Cameron, the founder of Cameron Management, which handles the prominent family’s land holdings. Acreage owned by at least three LLCs — including Rabon Estates Properties, LLC — is included in the Ricelands Proposal. Property records show that a family member of State Senator Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) previously owned a portion of this land.
The Ricelands parcels, just outside of the Leland town limits, were hooked up to public utility infrastructure in 2018.
Read the full planning board packet with details about these projects and more here.
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