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Developers looking to reimagine Wilmington’s Soda Pop District

Developers are hoping to completely revitalize the area and have about three city blocks with which to do it
Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 12:32 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Ask anyone who has been in Wilmington for more than a few years and they’ll tell you just how fast this city is changing. Parts of the town that were previously underserved or underutilized are seeing new growth with businesses coming in, seemingly overnight.

You don’t need to look any further than the area now known as the Soda Pop District, located around N. 10th and Princess streets. The area is already home to businesses like Hi-Wire Brewing, Cucalorus, and Folks Café — but developers are now hoping to completely revitalize the area and have about three city blocks with which to do it.

Andrew Hewitt, one of the developers for the project, says that although the old Coca Cola building gets a lot of the attention, that’s just one part of the development

“Throughout the multiple buildings, we’re going to be able to provide space for what garners the most attention — you know, bars and restaurants,” he said. “That being said, we also have space for office, retail, and something that was somewhat unique about our project is some urban manufacturing space.”

It’s a project that could, like other areas of town like the Castle Street District and Cargo District, make people reimagine different parts of Wilmington.

“So you really, really will see a transformation of a walking streetscape here, coming in and out of office buildings, coming in out of retail, coming in and out of restaurants. And, you know, eventually probably some infill of housing as well,” Hewitt said.

Holly Childs is the president of Wilmington Downtown iNC., a group that works to bring new businesses and jobs to downtown. She says a project of this size isn’t something we see in the already crowded city of Wilmington.

“Having this large of an area is very uncommon in an urban area to have one owner having three and a half city blocks, so almost eight acres of property, to redevelop,” Childs said.

Most people think of downtown as the area between both bridges, from 5th Street to the Cape Fear River, but Childs said that too is changing.

“There’s just so much going on throughout this whole area that I think we really need to look at where else can we invest. We only have so much land in the central business district,” she said.

Obviously, this type of development takes time. Hewitt said phase one is to renovate and reactivate several of the buildings that have been vacant.

But as land in the city becomes scarcer, it’s likely we’ll continue to see efforts like this to revitalize and rethink different parts of Wilmington.

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