River Place expected to bring major change to the downtown experience

Updated: Feb. 26, 2020 at 4:33 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - River Place, a project more than five years in the making, is finally finishing up.

The multi-use development including a mix of apartments, shops and restaurants is expected to start leasing in May, with condo residents expected to move in earlier than that.

Of the 92 condos built, just 10 have yet to be sold.

“It is coming to a close and it is certainly going to change Downtown Wilmington. We’re going to activate Water Street and all of this retail is going to draw people down to the river. We’re going to open up Chestnut Street, which hasn’t had vehicular traffic since 1960, so it’s going to change the heart of downtown,” said Lucien Ellison, the River Place development director

River Place will bring approximately 300 residents to downtown Wilmington, helping meet a long-time goal of Wilmington Downtown Inc. executives.

“Downtown is a place that’s well-positioned for development. That’s what downtown is supposed to have. So it’s great when we are seeing our efforts to grow the jobs, grow the residential base, grow businesses in downtown is having so much success,” said Ed Wolverton, President and CEO of Wilmington Downtown Inc.

River Place will replace the decrepit parking deck that sat as an eyesore for years.

“I think property values will increase in the adjacent properties surrounding River Place and we’re seeing great success in leasing up the retail space. I think we’re 60 to 70 percent leased up right now and we’ve got some other good prospects that we’re close to signing leases with,” said Ellison.

Mello Mushroom, Axis Fitness and another restaurant have already been announced to fill retail spaces.

Wolverton said River Place will tie together a growing Wilmington and serve as a center between the historic downtown and the newer areas.

“That whole space has really transformed and the northern edge of downtown will be more modern, more intensive with some of the use but our southern side of downtown is going to remain a historic center, a place for more human scale. So it’s going to be an excellent mix of both the old and the new,” Wolverton said.

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