Wilmington Hotel and Spa proposed for west bank of the Cape Fear River

Another request to develop the riverbank across from downtown Wilmington is on the table.
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 4:40 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Another request to develop the riverbank across from downtown Wilmington is on the table.

A proposal will be heard this month to build a hotel and spa on six acres of land between the region’s two biggest icons, the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge and the USS North Carolina.

The preliminary plans call for a six story building with three rooftop pools to be built on top of two stories of parking below the hotel. When completed, it will stand more than 100 feet tall, right on the western bank of the Cape Fear River.

The entire property is a FEMA floodplain, and is already sparking flooding and environmental concerns.

The site, located off Battleship Road, is also the very same place conservationists have been trying to establish the Eagles Island Nature Park.

The effort started a decade ago to create a recreation destination, protecting the land, establishing bike and walking trails and celebrating the rich culture and history of Eagles Island.

Board members say the six acre plot of land where the Wilmington Hotel and Spa is being proposed is the only developable land on the 3,000 acres of Eagles Island, and members of the task force trying to establish the nature park were surprised to see the hotel plan filed with the county.

“It’s a huge island in between two of the fastest growing populations in the United States, so the vision of a central park to hold space for these conservation, recreation, education is really the draw, but there’s really nowhere else to go. So, you know, we have to hold out until the 15th to see which way this goes. We feel there’s merit to what we put forward, regardless of what turns out here,” said Evan Folds, co-chair of the Eagles Island Central Park Taskforce.

Wilmington Hotel and Spa
Wilmington Hotel and Spa(WECT)

Efforts to build on the west bank of the Cape Fear River

The hotel plan comes at the same time another developer, Frank Pasquale, is proposing the Villages at Battleship Point, a sprawling 20 story complex comprised of shopping, restaurants, housing and hotels at nearby Peter’s Point.

Thursday night, it hit a road block as members of the New Hanover County planning board voted against creating the zone that would have opened the door to begin work on Battleship Point.

The difference between the two proposals is the Wilmington Hotel and Spa project isn’t subject to the same scrutiny because the land for the hotel and spa is already zoned regional business, which allows hotels.

That means that if the Wilmington Hotel and Spa passes the technical review committee this month, developers can essentially get started on the structure without holding any public hearings or going before the county planning board or the commissioners.

“It’s their right, the way the laws are written. To answer your question, no, it doesn’t feel appropriate here. It feels like we should have another level of review and that may come out of the regulatory process that they have to move through,” said Folds. “It does feel like we need a higher level of attention and intention around how we’re looking at these lands.”

CLD Engineering, PLLC is the applicant bringing forth the proposal.

The next leg of the journey happens on December 15, where the Technical Review Committee (TRC) will meet and discuss whether or not the Wilmington Hotel and Spa meets the county’s development regulations, fire code and utility requirements.

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