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Real Estate - Commercial

Developers Highlight Project Grace At Downtown Event

By Cece Nunn, posted Nov 17, 2021
Chris Boney, Chief Relationships Officer for architecture firm LS3P, discusses Project Grace during a Wilmington Downtown Inc. event Wednesday. (Photo by Cece Nunn)
The developers of a major downtown Wilmington project said Wednesday they hope to be able to announce some of its commercial uses soon and that the plan still has some moving parts.

Project Grace aims to transform a 3-acre block bordered by Grace, Third, Chestnut and Second streets into a mixed-use project with public and private facilities.

Wilmington-based Zimmer Development Co. is partnering with the block’s owner, New Hanover County, and has been presenting more details about the public portions of the project in recent weeks. 

On Wednesday, Zimmer’s Development Director Adam Tucker and Chris Boney, Chief Relationships Officer at Project Grace’s architecture firm, LS3P, spoke to about 350 business and government leaders. The event, hosted by Wilmington Downtown Inc., was held at Cape Fear Community College’s Union Station.

Tucker told the audience that his company believes Project Grace “is gonna stand the test of time for generations to come.”

He said work on the commercial components of the mixed-use project is ongoing. 

“We've almost got too much interest and too many users to try to fit everybody that wants to be here on the site,” Tucker said. “We've got more public pieces we’re talking to, we’ve got hospitality we’re talking to, we've got retail that we're going to do and we also have that multifamily component with the workforce housing that we've committed to doing.”

Asked by an audience member about the workforce housing portion of the proejct, Tucker said it’s possible that more than 5% of the units, as described in the county’s memorandum of understanding with Zimmer, could be dedicated to workforce housing.

But the initial phases of the project involve building a new main branch of the New Hanover County Public Library (the existing main branch in the Project Grace block will eventually be demolished) and a new Cape Fear Museum.

“We’re going to build something that’s truly transformational for New Hanover County and the city of Wilmington,” Boney said

The library, museum and shared space has been estimated to cost about $56.7 million. The MOU, which is subject to change, places a private apartment component's estimate at more than $23 million.

Construction on the public facilities could begin by summer 2022.
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