Game Over For Michael Jordan Museum At Project Grace

By Audrey Elsberry, posted Apr 19, 2024
New Hanover County announced Friday that the Michael Jordan family called off plans for a museum about the sports star. (File photo)
Michael Jordan's family has decided not to go ahead with plans for a downtown Wilmington museum focused on the sports star and his relatives, New Hanover County officials announced Friday.

The news release did not state a reason for the Jordan family's decision. The project was being considered as part of the county’s Project Grace plans, a public-private redevelopment of the county-owned, 3-acre block bordered by Third, Chestnut, Second and Grace streets.

New Hanover County manager Chris Coudriet announced at the Greater Wilmington Business Journal’s Power Breakfast event in December that the county and the Jordan family had entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) about the museum proposal. The nonbinding agreement outlined the next steps of the Jordan family museum planning phase over the next year.

"The conversations during this due diligence and discovery phase have been collaborative and productive, but the family has decided not to pursue a Michael Jordan Family Museum at this time," Friday's news release stated.

No specific funds from the county have been devoted to the Michael Jordan Family Museum project, according to the release. And officials said the change does not affect the existing agreement with Cape Fear Development regarding Project Grace. The project will include a new main branch of the New Hanover County Public Library and a new Cape Fear Museum, along with residential and commercial space.

The county's MOU with the Jordan family included details of what the planned museum would display highlighting Jordan, who grew up in Wilmington and graduated from Laney High School in 1981. The document stated that the plan was for the museum to “display objects associated with Michael Jordan’s basketball career and the Jordan family’s legacy, and provide programming and community connection in a manner that honors the Jordan family’s history and lasting impact.”

The MOU also stated that the county would have dedicated land at the corner of Third and Grace streets “to support the museum, in coordination and through an updated Development Agreement with [Cape Fear Development, the county’s private partner in Project Grace], and to provide a completed museum facility.”

Even without a new stand-alone museum, county officials said Friday that they would continue a partnership with the Jordan family to keep the existing "Achieving Success" exhibit of memorabilia from Jordan's life and career at the Cape Fear Museum.

While the Jordan facility is off the table now, construction on the new library and Cape Fear Museum on Grace Street  as part of Project Grace "is making significant progress," county officials said in the release.

The new library is slated to open to the public in late summer or early fall of 2025, according to the release.

"Following the building’s completion, the Cape Fear Museum will begin installing its new exhibits and is expected to open in early 2026," the release stated. "This staged approach allows for meticulous preparation of each space, ensuring that all facilities are fully operational."

The current site of the Cape Fear Museum on Market Street will remain as a collections, exhibit development and education space.

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