New Hanover County on track to see 314K residents in 2040

Growth inevitably comes with challenges like land availability, housing prices and traffic
Updated: Jan. 7, 2021 at 7:02 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The year 2020 brought soaring new growth to the Cape Fear area, according to a national study by United Van lines. Wilmington was named the number one place in the country for inbound moves.

“It makes sense,” laughed new Port City resident CJ Magwood. “The weather is fantastic, right? New Year’s Day it was like 70°. It’s super affordable, it’s a third of the price here for three times the amount of space versus New York.”

This summer, Magwood traded in his Manhattan apartment for a loft at South Front.

New Hanover County leaders expected the population growth and took it into account when they published their comprehensive plan in 2016, setting goals for the future. The plan had a high growth and a low growth estimate and Rebekah Roth of the county’s planning department says the 2020 boom didn’t catch them off guard.

”What we’re seeing is we do have growth. It’s on the higher end but it’s not as much as what was projected for ‘high growth’ trend, but it is closer right now to high and it will have us reaching 314,000 countywide by the year 2040. That’s about 15,000 to 20,000 lower than what we had anticipated in the plan,” said Roth.

Growth inevitably comes with challenges like land availability, housing prices and traffic. They’re just a few of the infrastructure needs the county is working on to make sure they are up to speed.

“Land cost has increased a lot so the type of development is more multi-family, more attached units and that’s different from the types of development that a lot of people who live in this area were used to seeing, so they’re seeing new development and it looks a lot different and without an understanding of some of the reasons for that, it seems like they are perhaps unplanned, are unanticipated,” added Roth.

But growth also comes with plenty of opportunities too—new services like trails and parks, and showing the demand needed to solicit funding for road projects.

The numbers show we aren’t done growing yet, and one of the region’s newest residents can’t help but agree.

“I think more and more people will want more space; more and more people will realize that their money can go a lot further elsewhere, and we’ll continue to see kind of migration out,” said Magwood.

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