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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Water Street redevelopment proposals down to four

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The future appearance of the redevelopment of the Water Street parking deck became a little clearer with Wilmington City Council’s selection of four developer proposals.

During its Tuesday, Jan. 6 meeting, council voted unanimously to allow city staff to develop more in-depth analysis of redevelopment proposals submitted by Wilmington-based Cape Fear Development Partners, Charlotte-based Carbon Properties, Chapel Hill-based East West Partners and The Integral Group from Atlanta.

Three of the development proposals boast project budgets of around $61 million with Cape Fear’s slightly less at $58 million. Total project costs would include contributions from the city of Wilmington, primarily for the hard costs associated with building the parking deck. The proposal from East West estimates the smallest contribution from the city at around $19 million with both Carbon and Integral at $20 million, and Cape Fear at $23 million.

While each proposal varies in specifics, the general criteria of the city’s Requests for Proposals included a mix of residential and commercial uses, public space opportunities, wrapped public parking and the reopening of Chestnut Street from Front to Water streets.

Cape Fear’s proposal calls for 200 residential units, 28,200 square feet of retail space, 325 public parking spaces and 290 private, and open spaces on both the ground and upper levels.

The proposal from Carbon calls for 224 residential units at an average size of 846 square feet, 26,660 square feet of retail space, 325 public parking spaces and 245 private, and open spaces only on upper levels.

The East West proposal calls for 211 residential units at 892 square feet on average, 30,130 square feet of retail space, 289 public parking spaces and 284 private, and open spaces on upper levels only.

The Integral proposal consists of 214 residential units ranging in size from 590-1,050 square feet, 23,600 square feet of retail, 285 public parking spaces and 282 private, and open spaces on upper levels only.

Wilmington Deputy City Manager Tony Caudle said the firms did not include enough financial information to adequately provide in-depth financial analysis of each project but his staff would crunch those numbers before the end of January.

City staff originally only suggested moving forward with three of the proposals, leaving out the proposal from Carbon. However, Caudle said questions from city councilmembers prompted staff to draft another resolution including that proposal as well.

City councilwoman Laura Padgett was the only one to vote against the resolution to move forward with the four proposals, citing a rushed timeline and lack of consideration of the other two proposals submitted.

“I have concerns about the speed this is moving and . . . I was also told by senior staff that we would not be asked to make a cut to this point,” Padgett said. “I do not agree with the four picked. I am concerned this process has caused a lack of creativity in the proposals.”

By its Feb. 17 meeting, city council will be asked to prioritize each of the four development proposals, with the project awarded to the first choice.

For analysis of the proposals, visit www.wilmingtonnc.gov

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