County Redevelopment Project Set To Begin In March

By Cece Nunn, posted Feb 3, 2021
An LS3P rendering shows what the new New Hanover County Government Center is expected to look like. (Rendering courtesy of New Hanover County)

A $120 million redevelopment project has cleared another hurdle.

The N.C. Local Government Commission approved New Hanover County’s debt financing of its new government center, which is part of a redevelopment of the center's site, according to a county news release Wednesday.

The approval, which came at the LGC's meeting Tuesday, moves the redevelopment forward, with construction set to begin in mid-March, the release stated.

A public-private partnership with developer Cape Fear FD Stonewater LLC, the redevelopment will include a new government facility with county offices and an expanded emergency operations and 911 center, as well as commercial and residential space, according to the release. It will also include some affordable housing and greenspace.

The current New Hanover County Government Center is a former mall that dates back to 1989.

“I appreciate the board of commissioners’ vision and support that is making this project possible,” said County Manager Chris Coudriet in the release. “And now with the approval of the LGC, we look forward to breaking ground in March and creating a purpose-built facility, designed with the customer at the center.”

As part of the development agreement approved by the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners on Jan. 19, the developer will manage the construction of the public and private facilities, and the county will enter into a 20-year public debt to finance the construction of the government center and retain ownership of the land where the new facility is built.

The remaining portion of the land will be sold to the developer for a mixed-use residential and commercial development.

The board on Jan. 19 also approved a $53.5 million capital project ordinance to finance the county's portion of the development. The private portion of the development has an estimated project value of $70 million.

According to the release, county services will remain in the current building while the new government center is built and will be moved into the new building once the structure is finished, which is tentatively expected to occur in September 2022.

“Throughout our design process, we have had a core county team working to ensure this new building is right-sized for our operations and also built with growth in mind,” said Sara Warmuth, New Hanover County’s chief facilities officer, in the release. “The building we are currently in is outdated, inefficient, and has become expensive to operate; and there are several critical repair and maintenance projects that would be needed in the coming years that would cost around $20 million to complete."

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