Sunday, February 5, 2023

‘BOONDOGGLE SQUARE’: Name-the-building survey for Project Grace garners mixed emotions from community

The street corner of the proposed Project Grace building, which will cost the county upward of $90 million over 20 years. (Port City Daily/Courtesy New Hanover County)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — At the beginning of October, the county opened an online survey to the public, welcoming suggestions to name the building for Project Grace. A major project to redevelop the block of county-owned land downtown –– bordered by 2nd, 3rd, Chestnut and Grace streets –– has been floated since 2018 but started gaining traction in spring of 2021.

CATCH UP: Previous reporting on Project Grace

It has drawn praise from some and ire from others, mainly in regards to the project’s demolition of the Borst Building –– a 1920’s-era Chrysler dealership. Currently housing the downtown library, the 201 Chestnut St. building also remains uncertain; it’s not clear if the library will be demolished or faces adaptive reuse. The Borst Building is slated to be razed instead of rehabilitated, a decision the Historic Wilmington Foundation and numerous members of the public have spoken out against. In its stead will be a new building combining the Cape Fear Museum and downtown library.

The county entered a public-private partnership with Zimmer Development Company (Mayfaire Townview, Camden Forest) and architectural firm LS3P (Wilmington Convention Center, New Hanover County Government Center) to erect a new building. Early renderings show it will be constructed of brick and glass, and include multiple floors, reading terraces, a planetarium, outdoor areas, and multi-purpose spaces.

On the northside of the block, the library will maintain 38,616 square feet, the museum will have 38,500 square feet, and there will be 8,470 square feet of combined space. On the southside, there will be multi-family apartments, offices and other mixed-use developments.

Project Grace is slated to cost the county $90 million over 20 years, and in January the county is expected to present the financing proposal to the Local Government Commission for review.

From Oct. 4-18, a name-the-building survey garnered 80-plus suggestions, according to a list of public responses obtained by Port City Daily. At the very least, participants tapped into their sense of humor — “Booky McBookface” and “Graceland of Wilmington” — while some showcased disdain: “Sold Down the River Tiny Library,” “Follow the Cash,” “Giant Taxpayer Ripoff” and “BOONDOGGLE SQUARE.”

Others used the survey to advocate for the building: “Please save our library. Don’t sell it to a developer and make taxpayers pay. The library is an important and beloved resource.”

A few took the opportunity to suggest honoring locals that have been notable to the history of the Cape Fear region: “The Alexander Manly Library” (Manley was the editor of The Daily Record, which was burned down as part of the 1898 Massacre and Coup) and “The Hermitage” (after Robert Harrill, the Fort Fisher Hermit).

Here is the list of all community suggestions:

The Books ‘n Bones Building
The Community/Taxpayers named it Project DISGRACE
The Renaissance
Saving Grace 
River of Hope City Center
Graceland of Wilmington 
Civil war building 
Cape Fear Rising
Building McBuildingFace
Wilmington Museum and Library
Discovery Center
The 1898 Complex
Grace Knowledge Center
Grace On Grace
Follow The Cash
Please save our library. Don’t sell it to a developer and make taxpayers pay. The library Is an important and beloved resource.
Sold Down the River Tiny Library
Stop giving away public resources. A library is for the people, not the merchants
Cape Fear Lyceum
Grace Complex.  Then Grace Library & Grace Museum.
Grace Landing
Project Disgrace
The Cape Renaissance
Cape Fear Renaissance
Cape Fear Museum & Library
Port ILM Public Library & Museum
Center of Hopes & Dreams
cape fear love and hope
Grace Library and Museum
New Town Library & Museum
Historical Wander Librarium
Synergy Center
Discovery Center
Graceful Gathering Gallery
Giant Taxpayer Ripoff
The Alexander Manly Library 
Grace Place
Cape Fear Library
The Hermitage
Nothing because the library should stay where it is
Not the library because we have one already
“The Glass Lamp”  (From The Lamp of Knowledge)
Alexander Manley Library
The Atheneaum
Commissioners Folly
Commissioners Folly
Commissioners Folly
New Hanover Enrichment Center
The Learning Center
The Hub
Commissioner’s Folly…
The Story Place
Grace Cultural Center
 N. H. C. Anthenaeum
The Anchor
Legacy Plaza
SLAM! (Structure for the Library And Musuem!)
Cape Fear Public Library and Museum
Azalea Athenaeum
Wilmington Historical Center and Library
Booky McBookface
Cape Fear Public Library and Cultural History Center
Ann Stephani
The RICE Center (Research Inspire Collaborate Educate) 
Inspiration Plaza
Exploration Place
The Abraham Galloway Center
Lighthouse of Port Wilm
Cape Fear Learning Center Library and Museum
The Freedom Center
Cape Fear Freedom Building
The Pine Center:  Passion, Inclusion, Nurturing, Educational
The Pine Center:  Passion and Information Nourish Education
Confluence Center
The Daily Record

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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