NEW HANOVER COUNTY — In the development pipeline this springtime, two proposals will attempt to convert residentially-zoned land in the northern county into business space. In the south near Monkey Junction — after the county just shot down a proposed apartment complex in the area — a local builder has submitted rezoning plans for a multi-family development on what’s currently a mobile home park.
The handful of applications filed with the planning department at this time will be presented at future public hearings in front of the planning board — and later before the county commissioners. Beyond the borders of Wilmington, planners and county leaders are gunning for mixed-use projects that can integrate and improve road networks they occupy; facing the need for more housing stock, townhomes and multi-family complexes are in style.
But with the denial of a national developer’s plans for 300 units south of Monkey Junction last week, commissioners indicated that traffic congestion on the county’s major corridors — and fears of inflaming it — could be a sticking point in development applications this year.
Two commercial projects in the works demonstrate the urbanization at hand in the north. After years of subdivisions and homes being built north of I-140, proposals are appearing that want to turn residentially-zoned land into businesses, filling out once-rural thoroughfares in Castle Hayne with commercial parks.
5000 N. College Road
Tidewater Investment Company submitted a rezoning application to convert 8 acres of residential land — between Sidbury and Holly Shelter roads — into a sport and entertainment facility designed to attract players of a growing game.
Plans for the Tidewater project include construction of 25 pickleball courts, a fast-casual restaurant and a sports bar. “Pickleball, according to many sources, is the fastest growing sport in the United States,” according to the rezoning application.
Pickleballers have urged local governments across southeastern N.C. to fund the whiffle-ball-and-paddle sport to a higher degree — a desire the rezoning application appears eager to help satisfy. The president of Cape Fear Pickleball Club said the group’s membership nears 500 and estimated the player-base in the area to be around 1,500 pickleballers.
“In New Hanover County, there is no single, publicly-accessible location that has more than 6 pickleball courts,” according to the application, which notes the 25 proposed courts are only the beginning. “The critical mass of courts will provide access to pickleball to players of all ages and skill levels. It will also enable us to sponsor pickleball tournaments, bringing in people from all over the country, adding a valuable cog in the county’s tourism engine.”
The project’s representative told Port City Daily the application has been pulled from consideration, and will later be submitted.
312 Hermitage Road
This 29-acre proposal, located across from GE Wilmington on Castle Hayne Road, would have a rural parcel built out with warehousing and office space, while retaining an onsite “nursery/wholesale landscape supply business.”
The parcel was purchased in March 2018 for $850,000, by a limited liability company associated with William Etters of Raleigh. In 2019 ownership was transferred to Fast Tracts Wilmington, LLC, also associated with Etters.
Site plans for the project, New Leaf Landing, show 11 buildings. The Castle Hayne Road interchange with I-140, built in the 2000s about a half-mile from the site, makes the land more suitable for commercial uses over residential, according to the application. The approved traffic impact analysis for the project requires developers to build new turn lanes on Hermitage and Crowatan roads.
5550 Carolina Beach Road
Adam Sosne of McAdams Homes filed a rezoning application for a 16-acre parcel behind Carolina Beach Road, right around its intersection with S. College Road at Monkey Junction.
The land, zoned for residences, is in use as a mobile home park (the application noted the density of mobile homes at the site is currently over what’s allowed by the zoning).
The zoning tag sought by the developer would allow the building of multi-family units: “This area is part of the unincorporated county but is in close proximity to city limits, making redevelopment with taller buildings and a more urban design style appropriate,” according to the application.
Last week, the board of commissioners voted against a proposal further south on Carolina Beach Road that would have allowed 300 apartment units on 20 acres: That proposal involved land directly fronting the highway, with traffic cited as a primary concern in the denial. This newer application from Sosne, however, deals with land buffered from Carolina Beach Road by a row of businesses.
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