Project Grace could bring modern library, hotel, retail downtown - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Project Grace could bring modern library, hotel, retail downtown

New Hanover County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a contract with WDI and Benchmark planning in January to redevelop three acres boarded by Grace, Third, Chestnut and Second streets. (Source: WECT) New Hanover County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a contract with WDI and Benchmark planning in January to redevelop three acres boarded by Grace, Third, Chestnut and Second streets. (Source: WECT)
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) -

More changes could be coming to the downtown Wilmington area with Project Grace. 

New Hanover County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a contract with WDI and Benchmark planning in January to redevelop three acres boarded by Grace, Third, Chestnut and Second streets.

The county has owned this block of land since the 1980s. 

The goal is to retain the library services on-site. The library is not considered a historic building so it can be revamped. The parking garage next door has 600 spots. 

They've been conducting a study since and presented four different scenarios for how the site could be developed during the Commissioners meeting Monday.

Scenario 1

  • Modern library combined with apartments on Chestnut Street
  • Hotel, condo and retail space on Grace Street
  • 6 story height limit - low rise code
  • Rezoning not required
  • Max development potential not achieved

Scenario 2

  • Modern library combined with apartments on Chestnut Street
  • Hotel, condo and retail space on Grace Street
  • 5 story - retail/hotel
  • 12 story - retail/office/condo
  • 9 story - apartment/library
  • Rezoning not required
  • Max development potential is achieved

Scenario 3

  • Library and story park remains as-is
  • Hotel, condo, retail and apartments on Grace Street
  • 15 story - hotel & condo
  • 14 story - retail, apartments & office
  • Rezoning is required
  • Max development potential is achieved

Scenario 4

  • Modern library and Cape Fear Museum combined with apartments on Chestnut Street
  • Hotel, condo, office and retail on Grace Street
  • 5 story - retail/hotel
  • 12 story - retail/office/condo
  • 10 story - apartment/library/museum
  • Rezoning not required
  • Max development potential is achieved

Commissioners will consider three main questions while reviewing the plans:

1. How much of the market demand do we want to capture?
2. Do we want to construct a modern library building?
3. Do we want to construct and relocate Cape Fear Museum?

Commissioners have until September to determine which direction to go in. A developer is expected to be hired in June 2018 with construction likely beginning in June 2019. It is anticipated construction on Project Grace will be complete by the first half of 2021.

Commissioner Rob Zapple says many have asked him what would happen to the city's downtown library.

"A library will be on that block and actually a better library than we have right now with the full support of Harry Tuchmayer, our Director of Libraries,” Zapple said Monday night. “I know there's been some questions you know, ‘is the library going away?’ Absolutely not. It's going to be there bigger and better than it is now. Sorry - it may not be bigger but it will have the efficiencies."

The county may or may not maintain all ownership of this new site. Some parts may be sold off to private companies. A financial analysis will determine the ownership future.

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