Wilmington firm announces plans for $250M development

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The owner of a Wilmington development firm has high hopes for land he described as "the best piece of undeveloped property in New Hanover County."

That is what David Swain, the owner of Swain & Associates, said in a Wednesday announcement about CenterPoint, a $250 million, 1 million- square-foot mixed-use development at 1531 and 1541 Eastwood Road in Wilmington.

The retail, hospitality, office and residential center will be located on 23 acres with street frontage on both Military Cutoff and Eastwood roads adjacent to the Eastport neighborhood to the east and Cambridge Bay Retirement Community to the west.

"We named it CenterPoint because we believe it will be a new center of activity in our region and will exemplify the type of mixed-use development that the City of Wilmington is working to attract to our community," Swain said. "Ones that feature the right mix of compatible uses, are compact, pedestrian and bike friendly, accessible to transit, and well connected to adjacent neighborhoods and roadways."

Among the project features are:

  • Flagship, 7-story, full-service hotel with 200 beds
  • 300 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments located above retail space
  • 50 to 60 retail shops and restaurants that combine national chains and local boutiques
  • 75,000 square foot medical services building
  • 31,600 square feet of first class office space
  • Multi-level, structured parking for 1,450 cars
  • Surface parking for 275 cars

Pending all approvals, construction is anticipated to start on CenterPoint in 2019 concurrently with the NC Department of Transportation's extension of Drysdale Drive, a new, four-lane road with median that is one of two designs being considered by the DOT to alleviate traffic and congestion at the existing Military and Eastwood intersection.

The Drysdale Drive extension will connect Military Cutoff and Eastwood roads and is an alternative to an elevated highway over the intersection, which according to DOT data, would cost considerably more and would take longer to construct.

On Tuesday, Swain & Associates submitted a request to the City of Wilmington to rezone the CenterPoint property from R-15 to UMX (CD). The property was last zoned to R-15 when annexed into the City of Wilmington in 1998.

In the Create Wilmington Comprehensive Plan adopted in May 2016, the property was specifically identified as a Regional Retail Center and a Multi-Use Place "area of opportunity" suited for a transit-oriented, multi-use development. The goal of the Create Wilmington Comprehensive Plan is to "focus on growing inward and upward, integrating land uses to reduce traffic congestion and improve housing, working and shopping options."

"Rezoning this property to UMX (CD) enables us to develop the land more efficiently than its current R-15 status allows," Swain said. "It also enables us to create the type of mixed-use project called for in the City's Comprehensive Plan. We look forward to working with the City on this rezoning request and to introducing our plans for CenterPoint to the community."

Swain & Associates has contracted to purchase the property from the Wetherill family of Wilmington. The property has been in the family for decades, and two of five siblings live in homes on the property.

"We've had this property in our family for quite some time and have had numerous offers over the years," said Richard Wetherill, a lifelong resident of Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington. "When David shared his vision with us, it became an easy decision. CenterPoint is an innovative concept and we like the fact that Swain & Associates is a local firm with a great track record."

Several residents in the Eastport neighborhood expressed concerned about the traffic impact the development would have, but said they were excited about the amenities it would bring.

"Swain is a good developer, and he does good work, but it's a lot larger than what we thought so I have mixed emotions about what's going on there," said Roxana Miller.

Miller added that she's lived in the neighborhood for more than a decade, and said the Military Cutoff and Eastwood intersection gets busier each year. She said she understands developing the area is necessary, but hopes DOT moves quickly to adjust for any traffic impacts.

Swain said traffic impact studies will also be completed in the area.

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