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Real Estate - Residential

Redevelopment Projects On Planning Panel's Agenda

By Cece Nunn, posted Sep 1, 2021
A rendering of a proposed mixed-use project on South College Road was included in Wilmington Planning Commission documents.
A couple of high profile redevelopment projects are part of the agenda for tonight’s Wilmington Planning Commission meeting, including a mixed-use project that would be built where a car dealership used to be on South College Road and the transformation of two Market Street motels into apartments.

The commission is holding public hearings on conditional district rezonings for the projects, which are in the works from separate developers.

For the mixed-use development, which would be built on the former site of a Honda dealership, Bella Vista Development Group and Craig Davis Properties Inc. want the designation of UMX (CD), or urban mixed-use conditional district, for 821 and 825 S. College Road and 4881 and 4885 Wilshire Blvd.

In a project that would be called Paseo, their proposal includes 298 apartments, a 364-space parking deck and 15,000 square feet for commercial use.

The city staff's report had some mixed opinions on the proposed development, ultimately recommending conditional approval.

“The proposal would allow the construction of a mixed-use project that will provide housing and some commercial services on the east side of College Road – the same side as UNCW – a plus,” the report stated.

City staff members also pointed out in the report:
  • These commercial and residential uses will wrap structured parking and minimize surface parking;
  • The proposal includes future access to the Kmart site to the north, thereby enhancing redevelopment opportunities on that site; 
  • and a public sidewalk will run along the east side of College Road passing in front of active ground-floor uses.
But it also said, “One shortcoming of the project is the lack of a safe pedestrian crossing of College Road directly to the full service Harris Teeter grocery store and shopping center immediately across this busy arterial. Rather, residents of the development will be tempted to cross College Road without the protection of a crosswalk; otherwise, the only available alternative is a longer, circumferential route employing an existing crosswalk on the south side of Wilshire and then having to cross Wilshire a second time to get to the Harris Teeter center.”

The staff report went on to say that while the proposed application of UMX zoning to the site “is not generally favored at this suburban location, the project does exhibit many attributes called for in the Create Wilmington Comprehensive Plan.”

Another proposal on the panel's agenda for tonight reimagines a hospitality property with a checkered past. Vivo Investment Group, a company that specializes in the conversions of motels to apartments, proposes to turn the Budgetel Inn and Motel 6, both at 4903 Market St., into a multifamily complex with 234 units.

The rezoning request would change the zoning of the 7.7 acres from regional business to MF-H (CD), multifamily, high density conditional district.

According to the planning staff report, the city of Wilmington filed a legal action against the property in 2016, claiming that the property “was a nuisance based upon a lengthy history of violations of the controlled substances act on the premises, as well as loitering and prostitution.”

In July 2016, a New Hanover County Superior Court judge entered a consent judgment and final order of abatement that prevents any current or future property owner from "maintaining a nuisance anywhere on the property."

The city report also state that the site presents an opportunity to provide affordable housing "and the applicant has proposed 10% (23 units) of the project to be designated as workforce housing. The workforce housing proposal would allow for the site to accommodate different income levels and not concentrate a single income level, as encouraged by the policies of the Comprehensive Plan.

The report went on to state that the city staff members believe "the request is reasonable and in the public interest and recommends conditional approval."

Vivo has developments throughout the U.S., including one in North Carolina in Winston-Salem, which a Vivo official described as “a huge success.”  

Brett Tanimoto, chief investment officer for Vivo Investment Group, said in a previous Greater Wilmington Business Journal article, “We purchased the [Winston-Salem] property in September 2020, and we are approximately 90% leased in less than 12 months.”

The first public hearing on the planning commission's agenda seeks a change from an office and institutional designation to a multifamily conditional district to build a 16-unit townhome development. The 1.82-acre site involved in the request is at 3380 and 3400 Masonboro Loop Road.

The Wilmington Planning Commission meets at 6 tonight in the City Council Chambers, City Hall, 102 N. Third St.
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