Group states intent to continue pursuit of west bank development with a “slower, more collaborative approach”

Leland Planning Board gives green light for development on west bank of Cape Fear River
Leland Planning Board gives green light for development on west bank of Cape Fear River
Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 1:00 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The KFJ Development Group has hit multiple roadblocks in their attempts to develop the western banks of the Cape Fear River. They announced on Friday, Oct. 21 that they’re still looking to develop the land but have requested the withdrawal of their rezoning request to New Hanover County.

“KFJ withdrew the appeal to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners for a variety of reasons. Primarily, we did not feel that asking the commissions to rule on a substantial issue in the heat of an election cycle was wise. The BOC asked for time to conduct joint work sessions with the planning staff - an idea which we continue to support - and now was not the time to continue that process,” wrote KFJ Principal Kirk Pugh in the announcement.

A proposed three-building development with 550 condominium units, 300 apartment units and retail space called The Villages at Battleship Point faced backlash from some members of the community. The NC Coastal Federation expressed their opposition due to flooding that could be caused by its construction, and the NAACP expressed concerns about the increased nuisance flooding, storm surges and damage to the ecosystems in channels dug by the Gullah Geechee people.

“If I had to pick a site that would be one of the most exposed to multiple hazards in this particular area, certainly that’s the spot right there,” said Dr. Rob Young, director of the program for the study of developed shorelines at the NC Coastal Federation, back in 2021.

After the New Hanover County Planning Board voted against the proposal in December of 2021, the developer looked to Leland and requested annexation of the 8.36-acre property. KFJ withdrew their application to Leland in May of 2022.

KFJ’s letter from October 21, 2022, doesn’t mention the specifics of what their future plans include, or whether The Villages at Battleship Point are still part of those plans.

“We decided that taking a slower, more collaborative approach is in the best interest of the Battleship Point project, the Board of Commissioners, and ultimately in the best interest of the citizens of New Hanover County,” continued Pugh.