Downtown Wilmington population growth exploding

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Downtown Wilmington is seeing record growth when it comes to residential options.

Bill Bryden has lived in Landfall since the turn of the century. Recently widowed and retired, he's now got a deposit down on a new condo that's yet to be built downtown.

"It just makes sense with my lifestyle. My home is just too big," Bryden said. "I think I'm on the beginning of something that's really exciting."

The sales office for River Place is one block over on North Front Street. In some circles, these condos seem to sell themselves.

River Place is a multi-purpose project of rental, retail and condos. It's a project with a price tag of more than $80 million.

The long-standing Water Street parking deck is in the process of being demolished. The project is a vision, mostly on paper at this point, but roughly 40 percent of the condo units are already sold.

"We're very excited. We've gotten clients from New York City, Maine, and all around North Carolina," said Keith Beatty with Intracoastal Realty. "People are really excited and confident in the growth they're seeing downtown."

Wilmington Downtown Inc. provided WECT with statistics that show the growth being experienced in downtown.

  • In 2010, the census estimate was 1,405 people in 846 households (about 1.65 persons per household)
  • Since 2010:
    • CityBlock                           112 units
    • Sawmill Point                    278 units
    • Infills (Purple, etc.)              10 units est.
  • New Total: 2,065 residents (46.9% growth from 2010 to 2016)
       Add in announced or underway projects:
  • Pier 33                                                  287 units
  • River Place                                           170 units
  • The Time (4th and Davis)                       10 units
  • NoFo Lofts (1101 N. 4th)                          6 units
  • New Total: 2,845 (37.7% growth from 2017 to 2020?)

Downtown's population is poised to grow by 102 percent since 2010 when these projects are completed and, a recently completed market study projects there is demand for another 450 units.

"It's an evolutionary process. Having a strong residential base is especially crucial for retaining and attracting retail and restaurant businesses," said Ed Wolverton, president and CEO of Wilmington Downtown Inc. "This residential growth, along with the expanding hospitality sector, will further strengthen downtown as a 24-hour, mixed-use center."

Bryden could, technically, move anywhere he wanted for this next chapter in his life. He has chosen Wilmington for that chapter as this historic city prepares its own next chapter.

"I can't be more excited," Bryden said. "It's just a great place to live with all the activity that's going on here."

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