A proposed large-scale mixed-used development on 44.1 acres of land on Military Cutoff Road called The Avenue was approved by Wilmington’s Planning Commission at their May 2 meeting.
The project will build 525 apartments, a 231-room hotel, 140,700 sq. ft. of office space, 115,000 sq. ft. of retail space, and 16,000 sq. ft. of restaurant space on the land between McCumber Station Rd. and Arboretum Dr. It would also include over 2,000 parking spaces. Currently, a 62-unit mobile home park and three commercial buildings sit on the land.
The Avenue was first brought to the city last year, but developers The Carroll Companies withdrew the application amid concerns over traffic. That stretch of Military Cutoff Road, which sits not far south from the thoroughfare’s busy intersections with Gordon Road and Market Street, is already operating with an “F” grade, the lowest score possible given by the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Traffic was still the main reason for opposition from the many neighbors and residents who spoke during the public hearing portion of the planning commission meeting. They cited the road’s current status and opposed adding more cars to a road that is already severely over capacity.
After a lengthy public comment portion, the 7-member commission had a chance to address some of those concerns and ask questions of the developers and their representatives, as well as staff involved with the project application. While acknowledging that there were still several issues that needed to be addressed, more than one of the commissioners said they felt “comfortable” or “satisfied” with the explanations given to them regarding the mitigation of traffic.
“There’s always a lot of apprehension about something like this,” said commission member Bruce McGuire. “When the project gets built and all is said and done, usually most people are happy with it.”
Despite a murmur of disapproval from the crowd following that comment, the commission eventually voted 6 – 1 to approve the development with some additional conditions. Commission member Jeannie Lyle was the lone dissenting vote. It will next go before the Wilmington City Council for approval and could be on the agenda for the June 5 meeting.