A local developer has plans to bring 125 new apartments to a vacant, overgrown piece of land in a well-traveled downtown Wilmington corridor.
Wilmington native Rodney Williams has plans to build a three-building apartment complex at 418 Wooster St., a property that's zoned for mixed-use development. Williams said he hopes the project will tap into the increasing popularity and reach of residential development beyond the traditional bounds of Wilmington’s downtown area.
“The downtown area is vibrant and growing,” he said. “This is definitely an area that it’s growing into.”
Williams, owner and manager of Franklin Construction Inc., came across the property in early 2021 and was intrigued by its unique shape and connectivity to both Wooster and Dawson streets, he said.
“When I saw this particular piece of property I liked it because of its uniqueness and its visibility and access to those two major corridors of ingress and egress,” he said.
Williams bought the land at 418 Wooster St. for $325,000 in December 2021, according to property records. Last month, he went before the Wilmington Board of Adjustment to secure a variance for the complex’s off-street parking and driveway access. The variance was unanimously approved by the board.
The project will include three, three-story buildings each with a footprint of about 10,000 square feet, Williams said. The apartment complex will offer a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments at market rate.
The project is also expected to include between 1,000 to 2,000 square feet of commercial space, Williams said. The details of the exact square footage will be worked out during the design process, he said.
With the variances secured, Williams said his development company is “fully engaged” in completing designs and moving through the permitting process.
Along Wooster Street, more residential growth is in store for the corridor. The owners of The Pearl and The Mini Pearl, apartment complexes across Wooster Street from Williams' proposal, have plans to expand The Pearl, as the apartment complex continues its march along Wooster Street.
The Maine-based owner Bush Watson wants to add 120 apartments on the northeast corner of South Third and Wooster streets – an area made up of four lots that are currently vacant, except for a few trees and some pavement.
Williams said he sees increasing potential for the Wooster and Dawson street corridors as growth creeps away from downtown and onto vacant or undeveloped pieces of land.
“I'm very excited about … the redevelopment potential in this area,” Williams said. “I think there's especially room for growth for more commercial use as well to support all these residential doors that are coming into place.”
Although still in its early stages, Williams said he hopes to break ground on his project late next year.