Wilmington City Council carries over discussion of what to do with former WAVE facility on Castle Street

Wilmington City Council carries over WAVE facility decision

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - After a lengthy debate, Wilmington City Council opted to continue discussion of the future of the former WAVE maintenance facility at 1110 Castle Street, giving a potential developer more time to finalize a proposal.

At its only meeting in July, council members discussed the proposal at length, but only came to a consensus that the item needs more debate.

City staff had suggested the council reject the only plan submitted as part of a Request for Proposal (RFP) to rehabilitate the former WAVE facility.

Hipp Architecture and Development, PC was the the only firm to respond to the city’s RFP, proposing a $7.1 million multi-use development that would utilize the existing two buildings along with construction of three new ones.

The development would include an affordable housing element — enough to house 18-20 individuals — that would be constructed as part of the development and then transferred to Habitat for Humanity.

However, funding for the development would have to come from a variety of sources the firm from whom the firm has not secured a solid commitment.

The plan also relies on almost $600,000 in funding from the city, both through a grant and for remediation of the environmental hazards left over from the maintenance activities.

Staff argued this requirement, along with the shakiness of the commitments, presented too much risk for the city, and the project should be put back out through a new RFP process.

A representative for Hipp spoke during the public information session, and council members went back and forth for more than half an hour.

Some, including Mayor Pro-Tem Margaret Haynes and Council Member Kevin O’Grady, argued the plan fits the spirit of what the RFP was about, and the site needs to be redeveloped sooner rather than later in order to take advantage of federal tax-incentives.

Others, including Council Member Neil Anderson, said they felt it would be unfair to other development firms to accept a proposal that relies on city funding, when that funding was not part of the RFP.

Anderson said that to him, that’s advertising the project as “XYZ,” but accepting a proposal for “XYZ, but we need you to do C and D.”

“The question is, is it fair to have accepted the proposal that didn’t meet the criteria,” he said.

Anderson said he was unaware of any other developers actually interested — the only other known proposal for the site was from TruColors, who had expressed interest in starting a brewery on the property, but did not participate in the RFP — but said to him it was more a matter of general fairness.

Ultimately, the council voted to continue the item over and give the developer an additional 30 days to refine the proposal.

Other Council Business Included:

  • Approving an agreement with the Cape Fear Youth Soccer Association, otherwise known as the Hammerheads Youth Football Club, for the transfer of 64.4 acres of land on Sutton Steam Plant Road along with a management agreement of $225,000 each year.
  • Declaring 418 South 5th Avenue unfit for human habitation, but carrying over discussion of whether or not the city will demolish the home.
  • A request for a rezoning and special use permit for the redevelopment of 321 Hooker Road was withdrawn.
  • Approving the purchase of 200 body cameras for the Wilmington Police Department for a total cost of $856,944.25 and in-car cameras to outfit 103 police vehicles for a total cost of $816,852.
  • Authorizing the retirement of WPD K-9 Officer Diablo.
  • Approving $200,000 for a HAWK pedestrian signal on Market Street
  • Approving $174,693 for tree replanting, using funds from subdivision fees and donations.

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