WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - We are taking a closer look at the future of the Port City and preparations for the population boom expected over the next few decades. Wilmington is expected to grow by 60,000 people over the next 25 years. So how does the city plan to entertain all these new residents?
Downtown Wilmington has long been a mecca in the Port City for shopping and entertainment and with three new residential complexes in the works, more people means more demand for more leisure activities.
"We're going to be looking at close to a thousand new people living in downtown," says Ed Wolverton, with Wilmington Downtown Incorporated.
There's new shops and stores coming in, like Farmin' on Front, a neighborhood grocery store across from the post office. On the next block, a new art studio will be open soon.
To make room for future stores Wolverton says you're going to start seeing some businesses, like attorneys' offices moving upstairs, saving room for retail shops and restaurants on the ground floor.
"We're going to see a steady progression of additional fashion oriented as well as some entrepreneurs coming in to fill the voids that we currently have," he says.
Coming in April 2017 the Water Street Deck will be home to much more than parking, with a mix of apartments, restaurants and more shops.
On the entertainment side, Cape Fear Community College just opened their Humanities and Fine Arts Center. That seats 1,500. But come this summer, a new stage on the Port City Marina will hold up to 5,000 people.
"By broadening the palate of what's available that allows us to attract more and different types and varieties of shows," Wolverton says.
Along Independence Boulevard and South 17th, construction has begun for The Pointe at Barclay.
A 14-screen movie theater is set to open this Thanksgiving, and possibly right behind that a new restaurant with an owner you might recognize.
"Ash Aziz," says Hill Rogers, the Broker-in-charge for the developer Cameron Management. "He owns Boca Bay, Circa, OC so we're really excited to have him. He's probably the best restaurateur in town."
Rogers says The Pointe will also include apartments and shopping. It's across the street from another major housing development.
"The sort of live, work and play environment," Rogers says. "You live in a building, you can work next door and you can eat and shop and dine all within a 5-10 minute walk."
It's a concept not new to Mayfaire Town Center, which continues to add on stores and is slated to add even more this year