WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - There is a huge spike in the number of projects that are underway in downtown Wilmington, which could significantly alter the skyline and perceptions of the center city, according to President and CEO of Wilmington Downtown Inc. Ed Wolverton.
While the south end of downtown will keep its historic tone, the north end will see the most change.
"It will be more modern architecture, taller buildings in most cases, dense buildings," Wolverton explained. "We'll see that sort of split personality downtown, but it will be connected through our roadways and Riverwalk."
Wolverton heads up Wilmington Downtown Incorporated (WDI) and is one of the many helping to grow the Downtown District.
"I don't have records back to the 1920s, but it is hard to imagine a decade that was any more active with buildings and construction than what we are seeing right now," Wolverton said. "It's just an amazing influx of development and activity."
More than $340 million of redevelopment projects are happening right now.
Four new hotels are (or will be soon) under construction:.
- The Embassy Suites Hotel, a 186 room hotel that will be built at the Convention Center.
- The Aloft Hotel, a 125 room hotel that will be built at the Coastline Convention Center
- The Indigo Hotel, a 120 room hotel that will be built diagonal from the Convention Center
- The Hampton Inn Hotel, a 95 room hotel that is being built in the 200 block of Grace Street. It is expected to open in 2016.
There are currently 1,700 housing units in downtown Wilmington. Another 800 are under construction or will be soon.
"We are growing the number of residential units Downtown in just this one little area by over 50 percent," Wolverton said. "That is going to happen in the next three years so that is a very significant change in the dynamic."
- City Block Apartments, added 112 housing units to the Brooklyn Arts District
- Rogue Development, several housing units have been completed in the Brooklyn Arts District. They have space to add even more in the future.
- The Urban Oasis Project, added about a dozen housing units on Castle Street.
- Saw Mill Point Apartments, 280 housing units are under construction near the Isabel Holmes Bridge
- Pier 33 Apartments, looking to add 300 housing units and 30,000 square feet of retail space near the Convention Center
- Water Street Parking Redevelopment Project, looking to include 190 residential units and 30,000 square feet of ground floor commercial retail space as well as 500 parking spaces.
Port City Marina Restaurants: Two newer restaurants are going in as part of the Port City Marina Project. The Port City Marina opened last summer, now construction is underway on two regional chain restaurants based in the Charlotte area. They are expected to open in the Fall.
Farmin' On Front is a 6,000 square foot retail space in the 100 block of Front Street. It is expected to open in the summer of 2016. "[It] will bring a long desired grocery amenity for residents and workers that are part of the Downtown scene," said Wolverton.
Waterline Brewing Company opened it's doors on Surry Street in December.
The brewing business in Wilmington is on the upswing," said owner Rob Robinson, explaining he'd specifically picked downtown Wilmington on purpose. "Wilmington was the right place at the right time to open a brewery."
They are not the only ones, New Anthem is under development on Dock Street, and Edward Teach Brewing will be popping up soon in the Brooklyn Arts District.
The Riverfront Park Improvement Project is also underway and includes expanding the plaza in front of the Federal Courthouse.
Wolverton said a new park is going to be on the Cape Fear River in the north end of downtown Wilmington, just west of PPD.
Right now the city has created a "temporary" park with a lot of grass for people to enjoy, but it will eventually be developed with more landscaping and facilities.
Wolverton said the park is currently in the Capitol Improvement Budget for 2020. While there is still a lot of landscaping design to be done, more and more people are starting to take advantage of the space and hosting events there.
"It is a very exciting time for everybody as you see these projects take shape, people begin to understand how the city is changing," Wolverton said. "We are really growing up."