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Monday, May 20, 2024

Riverfront apartments, single-family homes and Carolinian Inn redevelopment on the table for city planning board

The city’s planning board will hear three proposed zoning changes for a range of projects at its Sept. 7 meeting. (Port City Daily/file)

WILMINGTON — Three development projects are headed to the Wilmington Planning Commission early next month that could create more than 400 new housing options in the area.

All three proposals to be heard before the seven-member board Sept. 7 at 6:30 p.m. are being submitted for zoning amendments, meaning requests to change the density and use of the parcels in the project’s footprint.

Items recommended for approval will still need to get the final stamp of approval from Wilmington City Council.

Meetings are open to the public at City Hall, 102 N. 3rd St., and anyone may speak for or against an application.

Proximity at Watermark could bring 248 riverfront apartments to River Road, about a mile from Riverlights. (Courtesy/Cape Fear Development)

Proximity at Watermark

4216 River Road

First announced two months ago, a 40-acre defunct marina facility located on River Road at the intersection of Independence Boulevard, could be converted to waterfront apartments.

Owned by SCS Ventures, LLC, the Proximity at Watermark is a multi-family development proposal. It overlooks the Cape Fear River and would offer amenities such as a pool, bike storage and dock access.

On behalf of the owner, applicant Cape Fear Development Partners is asking the planning board to consider rezoning the land from light industrial to MD-17 — high-density, multiple dwelling. 

The applicant states that use is no longer economically feasible or the proposed zoning amendment would “increase the diversity of housing options within the city by offering a different and relatively unavailable option.”

Cape Fear Development Partners will manage and finance the project — proposed to include two four-story buildings with 248 apartment units and 434 parking spots.

The property is less than a mile from Riverlights and would act as a buffer between the residential area to the south and general industrial areas to the north.

The application notes the location is suitable for redevelopment, in line with the city’s comprehensive plan and would “create a more aesthetically pleasing corridor” along the site, including vegetation, landscaping and drainage improvements.

The site would utilize the current concrete footprint to avoid environmental impact and not encroach on the wetlands along the river banks, “honoring the history of the riverfront.”

“It would provide more access to green spaces and scenic natural resources,” the application states.

Plant Court Cottages is slated to be an 11-lot single-family home development. (Courtesy/City of Wilmington)

Plant Court Cottages

938, 1121 & 1125 Montclair Drive

Located along Montclair Avenue in central Wilmington, a currently vacant 2.57-acre plot could become home to small lot, single-family residential development, Plant Court Cottages.

The three parcels owned by Karma Rentals are currently zoned low-density R-10 and applicant Cindee Wolf, on behalf of the owners, is seeking a proposed change to moderate-density R-5.

A moderate-density use of the area would fit in with the surrounding neighborhood characteristics, according to the application. The site is near shopping, restaurants and other commercial services.

“Rezoning for a slightly higher density single-family development is consistent with the concept of in-filling underutilized land where existing services are available,” the application states.

Karma Rentals is proposing 11 single-family lots, averaging 5,000 square feet each, with an architectural style matching nearby houses lining 41st Street, Cedar Avenue, Montclair Drive, Page Avenue and Wrightsville Avenue.

Following a community meeting held by the developer, many neighbors expressed some concerns over density, traffic and stormwater issues. The civil engineer explained city stormwater regulations for new projects often remedy stormwater concerns with new construction but didn’t offer further explanation.

An 8.7-acre lot off Market Street, currently housed by the Carolinian Inn could be redeveloped to make way for apartments and townhomes. (Courtesy/City of Wilmington)

Redevelopment of Carolinian Inn

2916 Market Street

A nearly 9-acre parcel of land, where the old Carolinian Inn sits, could see a massive transformation to accommodate apartments and townhomes.

READ MORE: Residents urge Carolinian Inn developers to adopt alternative plans

Owned by RIGI Inc, represented by Orange Capital Advisors, for decades the property at 2916 Market St. has been zoned for office and institutional and low-density residential R-15. The applicant is seeking a zoning change to conditional MD-17 high-density residential for a multifamily project.

The application proposes a four-story building to house 112 apartment units and another nine buildings, totaling 36 townhomes. Nearly 2 acres of open space is planned, along with the retention of existing trees.

“The comprehensive plan recognizes a need to provide housing at a higher built density to accommodate projected growth, especially along major transit corridors,” the application states.

Based on feedback gathered from two community meetings, the applicant altered its proposed plans to reduce the number of units in the townhomes from 48 to 36 and transferred that density to the apartments, from 100 to 112.

Homeowners from Forest Hills, Beaumont, Mercer and Brookwood neighborhoods oppose the move to higher-density zoning, instead requesting medium-density, single-dwelling residential.

The front portion of the property currently contains a hotel with a chapter 19 nuisance consent order, issued in 2017 by the district attorney for the hotel’s ongoing issues of prostitution, assaults, robberies, and rampant drug use. 

Redevelopment of the property would eliminate the nuisance, according to the application. The hotel will be demolished, except for a renovation of the existing office into a possible leasing office.

Larger multifamily buildings will take its place, with the townhomes located toward the back currently undeveloped property.

The proposed project is in a “suburban commercial retrofit area of opportunity,” near an urban mixed-use center, which encourages additional residential uses and redevelopment of outdated buildings and sites. The project will add a sidewalk on Market Street and an additional multimodal pedestrian and bike paths linking 29th Street to Wayne Drive’s Beaumont Park.

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