Wilmington leaders assure neighbors the city is planning for growth with 'pods'

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - 'Pod' developments across Wilmington hope to alleviate growing pains

It's a frequent question asked by many living in New Hanover County, 'why are there so many grocery stores?'

"First were the grocery stores," said Wilmington City Councilman Neil Anderson. "Everybody was saying 'why do we need so many grocery stores?' So you don't have to drive."

It's all part of the comprehensive plan to give citizens what they want and need, without having to travel across town.

The goal is to ultimately alleviate traffic in heavily congested areas, like Mayfair, by creating similar centers in all portions of town.

"We're early in that transition and the more options you have closer to home, the more likely you are to use them. Having these pods if you will, these commercial nodes is a key strategy to any city as it grows and reaches a certain stage," said Anderson.

The Pointe at Barclay is one of these pods or nodes, encompassing retail, dining, exercise, and entertainment options in a relatively small space.

Because the city is still in the early transition stages, no traffic improvements have been seen on heavily congested Military Cutoff Road.

With more developments proposed for the Military Cutoff Corridor, many who live in the area are fearful things will become 'over-developed' too quickly.

Wilmington Planning Commission Chairwoman Deb Hayes says the plan will take time, but these factors have been taken into consideration.

"We're working with all these entities to try and make sure that our future is well planned and that it's dispersed so we don't have these traffic bogs," said Hayes.

Both Hayes and Anderson stressed these projects will be spanned out over nearly a decade, and traffic help will come before most major projects are complete, in the form of an overpass at Eastwood and Military Cutoff.

"There are good aspects to this but it's a plan, and it's going to take several years to get implemented and be fulfilled. And we need that time. Some may start in the next 6 months, some won't start and be up and going for 3, 4, 5 years and then they'll have a 10 year build out." 
Hayes and Anderson said they are confident in the long-term plan, but understand change can be met with resistance.

"Wilmington is having problems because we're thriving. That's not a bad thing," said Hayes.

"I wish it was easier still to get to the beach but I can't fix that so what I hope we can fix is the things you use every day like the grocery store, the drug store, a variety of restaurants, that we have a pod or a node that's close to you wherever you live," said Anderson.

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