New Hanover County is taking steps to accept a 50-acre land donation to kickstart a new business park off Holly Shelter Road.
Monday, commissioners authorized the execution of a contract with the property owner, Sidbury Land & Timber
, and allotted Wilmington Business Development $145,000 to oversee a master study plan for the new park.
“With easy access to I-140 and I-40, the Holly Shelter Road site could easily mark the next frontier for New Hanover County’s economic development strategy,” Scott Satterfield, CEO of Wilmington Business Development, said at the board meeting.
To record the deed to the 50-acre property, New Hanover County must bring water and sewer infrastructure to the site – located in a currently unserved area – by June 2026, per its agreement with Sidbury Land & Timber. This will cost an estimated $8.4 million, an amount the county already pledged to spend as part of its estimated $23.5-million utility project with Cape Fear Public Utility Authority approved last month
. In that arrangement, the county committed to financing the installation of utilities in five different areas of northern New Hanover County.
As part of the deal with Sidbury Land & Timber, the county must also complete a public access road within three years of utilities being installed on the site; the estimated cost of this road is yet to be determined, a county spokesperson said last week.
For 20 years, the county will also have a purchase option to acquire 200 acres the firm owns nearby in at least 50-acre increments, with the first to be purchased at 80% of fair market value.
At the county meeting, Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman credited Commissioner Bill Rivenbark with securing the deal with Sidbury Land & Timber. “This man has lived here his entire life, and literally went to the property owners and sat on their front step until they would talk to him,” she said. “That is how much this man has put into this project.”
Sidbury Land & Timber is managed by local real estate firm Cameron Management; representatives of the firm did not respond to requests to comment.
“This is a dream for New Hanover County, to have this type of park,” Olson-Boseman said.
Rivenbark, also a member of the WBD Board of Directors, said in his first few meetings on the board, discussions circled around the Pender Commerce Park. “So I stayed one day after the meeting. I said, ‘What are we doing about New Hanover County?’” Rivenbark said he asked Satterfield.
“[Satterfield] said, ‘Well, y’all haven’t got a commerce park.’ And I said, ‘We'll get one.’ So we got one,” Rivenbark said.
Rivenbark said the deal had been in the works for close to a year.
Satterfield told the Greater Wilmington Business Journal on Tuesday that ongoing product development, which includes quality buildings and ready industrial sites, has long been central to WBD’s strategy.
“Unique among North Carolina counties, New Hanover County is small when measured by land mass but has a fast-growing population and dynamic 21st-century economy,” he wrote in an email. “Southern New Hanover County is almost fully developed, thus the need to push towards Castle Hayne (Blue Clay Road, Holly Shelter Road, Sidbury Road, etc.) for development purposes — not just industrial but residential and commercial as well.”
The scale of projects WBD is proactively recruiting continues to increase, according to Satterfield. “Where in New Hanover County can we put 500,000-1,000,000 sq.-ft. contiguous, zoned appropriately, and with full infrastructure?” he wrote.
Ongoing site readiness initiatives prepare the area for the next three to 15 years, Satterfield said.
This is the second business park the county is planning near Castle Hayne. County-funded infrastructure is expected to be installed in the nearby Blue Clay Business Park early next year.
“Exciting things may happen at these properties in the short term," Satterfield said, "but we are completely confident both the Blue Clay Road and Holly Shelter Road properties are more about strategic opportunities and keeping our region prepared for the next wave of global business expansion."