Sunday, July 21, 2024

400-plus housing units in greater Wilmington area under review next week

Summerwalk Phase 11 is planned for the corner of Oleander Drive and Greenville Loop Road. (Courtesy City of Wilmington)

WILMINGTON — Hundreds more multi-family residential units are planned for nearly 30 acres in the Port City. 

READ MORE: County estimates thousands more trips could be added to Carolina Beach Road per undeveloped land

Two developments are proposed on empty tracts along two busy corridors — Oleander Drive and the corner of Carolina Beach Road and Independence Boulevard. Both projects. One will include workforce housing and require rezonings, to be considered by the Wilmington Planning Commission on Wednesday. 

Members of the public will have the opportunity to share their thoughts during each hearing. 

Planning staff are recommending conditional approval for both projects. 

Midtown Junction 

The concept of the Midtown Junction development at the corner of Independence Boulevard and Carolina Beach Road. (Courtesy Chaucer Creek Capital)

Over 23 acres at 3818 Carolina Beach Road and 3930 Independence Blvd. is being eyed by a Raleigh-based developer for 257 apartment and townhome units.  

A site plan put forth by Chaucer Creek Capital shows the  property, now vacant aside from tree canopy, would have five four-story apartment buildings and 15 townhomes across five two-story buildings, a mix of one- to three-bedroom units. Starting at the corner of Independence Boulevard and Carolina Beach Road, the building weaves backward in a strip between Hawthorne at Indy West and Southgate Park, a single-family subdivision. 

The apartments and townhomes will be accompanied by 504 parking spaces located around the perimeter of the development and buffered by at least 20 feet of vegetation or fencing between surrounding properties. 

According to the application, Chaucer Creek Capital proposes to construct a new residential collector street off Independence Boulevard to provide access to the development. This street would include a right-in and right-out entrance at Independence Boulevard. A secondary access would be located on Carolina Beach Road, which would also be restricted to right-in and right-out access.

An increase to both the Independence and Carolina Beach routes, already operating near capacity, is expected, but a traffic impact analysis is currently under review. 

Amenities for the neighborhood include a dog park, racquet courts, a resort-style pool, club house, and a fitness facility along with detached garage buildings and trash facilities.

Before construction, the tract would need to be rezoned from R-15, moderate-density residential, to MD-17, high-density multiple-dwelling residential, with a conditional district. Under the MD-17 zoning, 386 maximum units are allowed, but the applicant is proposing 139 less to “work with the unique topographic and environmental attributes of the property,” according to the application. 

It also notes there are significant wetlands on the property, most of which will be preserved due to splitting the property into three areas serviced by cul-de-sacs and turn-arounds. However, the developer is planning to disturb a small amount of wetlands to walkways across the property and will need to apply for a permit to do so. 

No specimen trees are planned for removal, though some significant trees are. Ultimately, the plan is to preserve 30% of the entire property, according to Chaucer Creek Capital. 

Documents detail participants in the community meeting — held in May, as required before submitting an application — raised concerns over the wetland impacts, tree removal, traffic, site lighting, noise and construction impacts, sidewalks and crosswalks. Chaucer Creek Capital did not make any adaptations based on the feedback. 

Wilmington planning staff recommends approval based on the land’s identification as an area of opportunity for infill development along a high-capacity transit route under the Wilmington Comprehensive Plan. Staff noted it’s consistent with the surrounding area.

However, with planning board approval, several conditions are recommended, too, , which the applicant must accept or else the conditional rezoning shall be rendered null and void. 

For instance, the developer must install a signalized pedestrian crosswalk across Independence Boulevard at the intersection of Independence Boulevard and Carolina Beach Road.

If accepted by city council, the site plan shall not differ from whatever is approved on Aug. 1, the planned date for a council vote. 

Summerwalk Phase II

The site plan for the Summerwalk Phase II development. (Courtesy Summerwalk Commercial)

Another development is proposed for the undeveloped corner of Oleander Drive and Greenville Loop Road, with 192 multi-family units and 20,000 square feet of commercial space. 

The property is owned by Wilmington-based Summerwalk Commercial, represented by Marlena Edwards. The company is also behind the Summerwalk neighborhood to the  south, the first phase in the Summerwalk development in 2010. 

The second phase was never constructed, and 2015 the remaining acreage was rezoned for sole commercial use, also never completed. 

The new-and-improved Phase II, located on 5 acres at 6120 Oleander Drive, includes two five-story buildings, each 60 feet tall, fronting Oleander Drive, and one 45-foot four-story building along Greenville Loop Road. 

Summerwalk Commercial is suggesting 20 units, or 10% of the site, be set aside for workforce housing for a period of 15 years. This will allow the developer to exceed density standards from 17 units per acre to the proposed 36.6 units per acre. The workforce housing must be dispersed throughout the development and not concentrated in one building, according to the Wilmington land code.

A total of 138 one-bedroom units and 54 two-bedroom units are planned for the development. Amenities include a pool facility and several outdoor patios accompanying the buildings. 

Ingress and egress will be on Oleander Drive and the private Richard Bradley Drive, both routes conjoined by a traffic circle at the southern end of the property. The site plan includes 366 parking spaces, a mix of street and garage options. The last traffic impact analysis for the property was completed in 2014. 

It estimated an additional 320 peak morning and night trips, calculated only for the office and institutional zoning. The property owners would need to update the study before moving forward. 

The applicant proposes to rezone the site from a community business conditional district to an office & institutional conditional district. According to the application, the developer held two community meetings where the public raised issues over safety, traffic, parking, road maintenance, stormwater, flooding and open space (of which the developer is providing double the required amount). No additional changes were made based on this feedback. 

Similarly to Midtown Junction, staff recommend conditional approval based on the Wilmington Comprehensive Plan’s identification of a need for infill development. However, instead of the majority of staff’s strong support for Midtown Junction, most employees only showed modest support, according to planning department documents. 

The recommendation comes with 19 conditions, including: 

  • All surface parking should be pervious material
  • A shared parking agreement shall be executed between the owners in a tenure dictated by the city attorney
  • All regulated flowering trees and deciduous trees 10-inch caliper and below in size, targeted for removal, shall be spaded and relocated on site
  • All construction traffic shall access the site from Oleander Drive 
  • Perpetual maintenance and upkeep of the open space and stormwater management ponds shall be provided by an incorporated Homeowners Association or by the developer and/or owners of the property
  • An annual report must be submitted to the city establishing compliance with the affordable housing commitment
  • Any significant and specimen trees located on site located outside of the building footprint and proposed access improvements must be protected and retained
  • The applicant shall work with WAVE transit to improve the existing stop to the west, located at the intersection of Giles and Oleander drives

The Wilmington Planning Commission will hold a hearing on both projects and consider a recommendation to city council at its meeting on July 12 at 6 p.m. in City Hall council chambers, 102 N Third St.


Reach journalist Brenna Flanagan at brenna@localdailymedia.com.

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