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City Approvals Push Forward Plans For Former Wilmington Fire Stations

By Emma Dill, posted Apr 17, 2024
A rendering shows plans for 32 supportive housing units on the site of a former fire station at 3939 Carolina Beach Road. (Image courtesy of Tise-Kiester Architects)
Plans for the sites of two former Wilmington fire stations are moving forward, following approvals from city leaders on Tuesday.

Local nonprofit Leading into New Communities Inc. (LINC) secured a rezoning and special use permit on Tuesday to establish a boarding school on the site of a decommissioned Princess Place Drive fire station while Good Shepherd, a nonprofit that provides housing and other services to the homeless, received more than $2.1 million in federal funds to bring 32 supportive housing units to the site of another former fire station on Carolina Beach Road.

LINC is looking to renovate the former fire station at 3933 Princess Place Drive into the Hisan Polk Transformation Academy, a boarding school that would offer a 14-month-long program for at-risk men, aged 15 to 18, LINC executive director Frankie Roberts told the council on Tuesday. 

“The goal would be within that 14-month period we will ensure the individuals get a high school diploma as well as get a construction or a technology trade,” Roberts said.

The program would house around 12 participants and would include an emphasis on practical skills and a community service component, Roberts said.

The fire station has been vacant since being decommissioned in 2019. In 2021, city leaders voted to transfer the property to LINC with the condition the site be used for an “approved public purpose,” said Kathryn Thurston, a Wilmington zoning administrator.

Council member Kevin Spears said he’s heard safety concerns about the program from neighbors. In response, Roberts said the boarding school will have 24/7 staff supervision and neighbors will be on the panel that interviews prospective participants.

“They will have a say on who we accept,” he said.

Roberts said he expects to issue a request for qualifications for a project contractor within the next 30 days and start renovations in the next 90 days. LINC hopes to wrap up work on the project by this time next year, Roberts told the council.

Another project that would bring 32 units of supportive housing to the site of a former fire station on Carolina Beach Road received more than $2.1 million in gap financing through an agreement with Good Shepherd Ministries of Wilmington, Inc. and Lakeside Partners of Wilmington, Inc. 

The funding comes from HOME Investment Partnership American Rescue Plan funds allocated to the city by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The proposed project at 3939 Carolina Beach Road will build supportive housing designed to accommodate low-income single men and women. The complex will also include supportive services like case management, substance abuse and mental health counseling, vocational rehabilitation job coaching and other resources. Residents will be referred to the complex through coordinated entry.

The city donated the land to Good Shepherd in 2022 to help create permanent supportive housing. Last year, the city council approved more than $126,000 to help cover the project’s pre-development costs. Tuesday’s approval meant the project would be fully funded, said Rachel LaCoe, Wilmington’s director of housing and neighborhood services. 

The project has received a mix of public and private funds, including more than $2.9 million in North Carolina Housing Finance Agency Supportive Housing American Rescue Plan funds, a $2 million grant from the SECU Foundation and more than $471,000 in private donations.

Good Shepherd is the largest provider of homeless services in the Cape Fear region and also operates SECU Lakeside Reserve, a complex of 40 supportive housing units near Greenfield Lake, through subsidiary Lakeside Partners of Wilmington.
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