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Local Government Commission Does Not Approve Project Grace 

By Johanna F. Still, posted Sep 22, 2022
While New Hanover County still plans to pursue a new main branch library and Cape Fear Museum, a mixed-use project is off the table for now for Project Grace. (File rendering)
The N.C. Local Government Commission did not approve Project Grace's lease agreement during a meeting Thursday afternoon, taking a planned public-private partnership off the table for New Hanover County. 

One commission member of the state board, Vida Harvey, made a motion to approve the project that failed because no one seconded it. At least seven other LGC members were in attendance during the meeting who did not vote on the motion. 

County representatives, including Chairwoman Julia Olson-Boseman and county manager Chris Coudriet, participated virtually in the meeting, and presented various highlights of the project while attempting to address issues previously identified by the LGC. 

A key component of the LGC’s criteria to approve the county’s proposed lease agreement with Zimmer Development Co. is that the amount being paid by the county ($4 million annually over 20 years) is adequate but not excessive. 

County officials told the LGC before the vote they intended to move forward with the project even if the board did not approve, which could entail coming back before the board with a different arrangement at a later time. 

"The county will purchase the full design and construction documents for the library and museum facility at a cost of $2.5 million from Zimmer Development, as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding amendment," the county shared in a press release. "Then the county will assess next steps, including the cost of issuing debt to build the facility and the timeframe for when to proceed. As additional information is known, the community will continue to be kept informed."

LGC representatives could not immediately address questions regarding the implication of the failed motion to approve. 

Stay tuned for more details on this story Friday.
 
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