The New Hanover County commissioners this week voted to accept bids for two parcels in the county-owned Blue Clay Business Park.
Both proposals were submitted to the board by Scott Satterfield, CEO of Wilmington Business Development.
The first, dubbed Project Cab, is a potential expansion of Coastal Millwork Supply Co., which manufactures doors, cabinets and closet systems, according to Satterfield. The company, he said, has outgrown its current space at 1301 S. 13th St., near Greenfield Lake.
“Our goal is to keep those assets here as well as the employee base,” Satterfield told the commissioners at their meeting Monday.
The company is associated with Risley Padula, a provider and installer of interior trims. Both Coastal Millwork Supply and Risley Padula serve clients across the state and both plan to move to the new facility.
Satterfield said Coastal Millwork Supply has made an offer of $233,750 for a 5.5-acre parcel in the business park, a price of $42,500 per acre. The company plans to invest more than $7.5 million in a new facility that will consist of about 55,000 square feet of manufacturing space and about 7,000 of office space. The company also expects to add 25 new employees to its existing workforce of 50 people.
There is potential for a future expansion – a further investment of $3 million – that could add another 11,500 square feet of manufacturing space and 3,000 square feet of office space.
Coastal Millwork Supply’s offer is contingent on the county’s ability to install water and sewer infrastructure to the site by the end of the year, Satterfield said.
The commissioners approved the bid unanimously but Commissioner LeAnn Pierce noted that the county has designated an upset bid period of 10 days, meaning that if the county receives a higher bid for the property within that time frame, the higher bid may prevail.
The second bid is for a 5.02-acre site in the business park. The purchase would make way for a potential expansion of FFT Cabinetry, and was referred to by Satterfield as Project Set. FFT, owned by Jeff Futch, designs and manufactures custom items for kitchens, bathrooms and closets.
Satterfield said that, like Coastal Millwork, FFT Cabinetry has outgrown its existing 10,000-square-foot facility at 6426 Windmill Way and needs additional space to accelerate and expand its work on custom closets and storage systems.
FFT is offering $213,350 for the acreage, again, at a price of $42,500 per acre, and plans to invest between $5 million and $7.5 million to create a 50,000-plus square-foot building, with the possibility of a future expansion of 25,000 additional square feet of space. The company would add 10 new jobs, Satterfield said.
Again, the purchase agreement is contingent upon the county’s completion of infrastructure installation by the end of 2023. And again, the county is subjecting the transaction to a 10-day upset bid process.
Given those conditions, the commissioners voted unanimously to accept FFT’s bid.
“We need to light a fire under the providers of water and sewer,” to make sure that infrastructure deadline is met, Commissioner Rob Zapple said.
The delay has been caused by roadway-related changes made the N.C. Department of Transportation, county manager Chris Coudriet responded. Those changes required engineers to redesign the layout of water and sewer pipes, he explained.
Satterfield gave commissioners an update on the purchase by Francini Marble and Granite of another site at the park. That transaction is in the final stages of due diligence and should close in May. Development of Francini’s 100,000-square-foot distribution facility will proceed when the utilities are installed, he said.
More than 40 acres of buildable land remain to be sold at the business park.
In other business Monday, the board heard a report on the first year of Port City United operations and an update from the joint New Hanover County-city of Wilmington Workforce Housing Advisory Committee.
After recapping its efforts in Fiscal Year 2022-23, that committee presented five recommendations, including the creation of a dedicated affordable housing development fund, replacing one-time funding opportunities for developers looking to subsidize affordable housing and the expansion of counseling and financial literacy programs related to housing.