'It's like a TED Talk focused on our local development': A Growl - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

'It's like a TED Talk focused on our local development': A Growler of Projects

Future plans for the 200 Market St. site, which will be used for retail space and a nightclub. (Source: Gene Merritt) Future plans for the 200 Market St. site, which will be used for retail space and a nightclub. (Source: Gene Merritt)
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) -

Wilmington Downtown Inc. will host a night centered on downtown development Thursday.

Downtown Growth: A Growler of Projects  will be held at the Coastline Convention Center beginning at 5:30 p.m. The event will feature a presentation and networking opportunities. Tickets cost $25 and include appetizers and two drink tickets. 

“It’s kind of like a local TED Talk that’s focused on our local development projects,” said Ed Wolverton, president and CEO of Wilmington Downtown Inc. 

The overarching theme of the night will be focused on downtown growth, and how new projects contribute to jobs, improve the local economy, and grow the tax base.

“Downtown is actually the largest business center in the entire region. We have almost 11,000 workers in downtown, over 880 businesses in downtown, so it’s a thriving and dynamic center," Wolverton said.

Much of the downtown revitalization has focused on the bar and restaurant scene. With the addition of the Coastline Conference Center, developers are now planning to focus on adding hospitality spaces and residential units. 

“That bolsters our economy. It continues to expand our reach," Wolverton said. "The more hospitality, the more residential uses are making downtown more competitive." 

Four area developers will talk about their plans for downtown. Of these four developments, two are underway with two still in the planning stages. 

The first project to be discussed Thursday night will be 1-9 S. Front St., which is in the final stages of completion. Developer Brian Wallace with MeetingHouse Properties will talk about how he has turned an old nightclub spanning from above River Rat Brewery to Platypus & Gnome into office spaces.

"They are totally renovating the space and actually using historic preservation tax credits as a way to restore the building back to more original condition," Wolverton said. 

Local developer Gene Merritt plans to share his plans for the 200 Market Street site, located on the corner of Second and Market, next to the Blue Eyed Muse. Merritt will be constructing a new building on a long-time surface lot used for private parking. 

“I’m anticipating eight or nine very small specialty shops that would cater to unique specialty needs and the entire second floor would be a nightclub,” Merritt said. 

He also plans to speak about development in the downtown area in general. 

"The bigger picture [is] the need for what I call infield development," Merritt said. "I don’t like little pieces of land used for parking lots. That’s not the highest and best use of the land. We need to have buildings on that land and parking needs to be in structured parking garages or on the street.”

On the North Side of downtown, local architect Clark Hipp is planning to transform another surface parking lot into what is being called the 'NoFo Lofts.

This proposed space would include ground-level retail with residential loft and will be located in the Brooklyn Arts District at 1101 N. Fourth Street. 

The final presenter of the night will be David McLamb with Poteat Hospitality. He will discuss plans for an Aloft Hotel next to the Coastline Convention Center. 

Tickets for the event are still available and can be purchased here.

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