Real Estate - Commercial

One Firm Scales Back Riverfront Plans; Another Completes Eagles Island Purchase

By Cece Nunn, posted Oct 18, 2023
Developers have downsized their plans for a project on Point Peter, an area situated across the Cape Fear River from downtown Wilmington. (Photo by Michael Cline Spencer)
The development of Point Peter is not off the table for Kirk Pugh and his partners in KFJ Development Group, but Pugh said Wednesday they are still waiting on New Hanover County to make zoning decisions about the area.

Meanwhile, for a separate western Cape Fear Riverbank project, developer Bobby Ginn purchased nearly 19 acres at 105 and 125 Battleship Road Northeast on Eagles Island for $8 million on Oct. 3, according to property tax records.

Efforts to speak with Ginn on Wednesday were unsuccessful. His company, Ginn Corp., proposed a 290-bedroom hotel project on 14 acres at 125 Battleship Road in plans submitted to New Hanover County in 2021. Ginn's project does not require a rezoning from the county to move ahead, and as of Wednesday morning, Ginn had not filed a petition for voluntary annexation of the property into the city of Wilmington, according to City Clerk Penelope Spicer-Sidbury.

Wilmington-based KFJ Development wants to build a mixed-use development on 8 acres of Point Peter, an arrow point of unused property that juts into the Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear rivers across from northern downtown Wilmington.

Ginn's and KFJ's plans are examples of what prompted county officials to take a closer look at the western bank.

In KFJ's case, the partners have decided to scale back their previous ideas for what they want to build there, Pugh said Wednesday.

"The overall size and scope of the project was reduced substantially in our latest architectural renderings," Pugh said, adding that KFJ isn't currently sharing specifics or conceptual renderings with anyone.

KFJ Development has the Point Peter land, located at 1100 Point Harbor Road in New Hanover County, under contract.

Preliminary plans for the development had called for three multi-story towers, up to 24 stories; 550 condominium units, 300 apartments and commercial space, including a luxury hotel.

KFJ still wants to offer housing along with a retail or commercial component, but the overall size and height of the project is smaller in the group's current conceptual plans, Pugh said.

On Monday, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners heard a presentation about the condition and environmental impacts of some of the undeveloped land on the western bank, comprised of nine privately owned parcels.

One of the staff's recommendations is to add a new riverfront-specific zoning district that would allow for limited uses by right and include a process where more intensive uses could be requested as part of a conditional zoning district. 

The board on Monday decided to opt for more research.

"To better understand how the area could safely and strategically be developed, Commissioners unanimously approved allowing Planning and Land Use staff to move forward with an additional study that looks at possible rezoning opportunities," stated a county news release recapping Monday's meeting.

KFJ's plan would need a rezoning to move forward from its current heavy industrial designation. It's this potential new zoning that KFJ has been waiting on, Pugh said, for more than two years. In the meantime, KFJ has removed 400 tons of garbage from Point Peter, Pugh said.

"We're still here," he said. "We're hopeful that the process will move along, but so far, it's been slow."
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