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Real Estate - Commercial

County Officials Delay Discussion Of New Riverfront Zoning District

By Cece Nunn, posted Jan 11, 2022
A conceptual rendering of Battleship Point shows the high towers the development partnership has in mind for Point Peter across from downtown Wilmington. (File rendering)

County officials have postponed discussing a new zoning district that would boost the possibility of a 24-story mixed-use project across the river from downtown Wilmington.

The county is now expected to schedule a separate work session between elected officials and staff members to study the matter further.

The issue involves a local development partnership's $500 million plan for land located near the Isabel Holmes Bridge, where the Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear rivers converge. To move those plans forward, KJF Develpment Group sought the addition of a Riverfront Urban Mixed-Use Zoning to the county's list of zoning options.

KFJ's Battleship Point proposal calls for about 540 condos, 330 apartments, nearly 200,000 square feet of commercial space and a 76,000-square-foot luxury hotel. It could also include buildings up to 240 feet, or potentially 24 stories.

The development group had hoped the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners would approve the zone despite the county planning panel's recommendation to deny the request late last year.

But early on during the board of commissioners' meeting Tuesday afternoon, Commissioner Rob Zapple made a motion to table the request "to give an opportunity to the board of commissioners and staff to gain further information." The board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Officials did not say when exactly the request might come up again.

The commissioners' vote comes after a news conference last week held by representatives of nonprofit groups opposed to the development, citing environmental concerns among other reasons.  A KFJ official said in last week's Greater Wilmington Business Journal story that the addition of RUMXZ to the county zoning code could protect most of the area from future heavy-industry use, which is allowed under current zoning.

Kirk Pugh of KFJ Development said Tuesday, "It’s my underststanding that the plan is to take this pause and schedule a joint work session between the board of commissioners and the planning department and possibly to allow each of us – developers and the opposition – to present their qualified experts to answer some of the information and some of the misinformation that’s been distributed."

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