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Real Estate - Commercial

The Avenue Developer Aims To Start Early Next Year But Keeps Eye On Costs

By Cece Nunn, posted Sep 20, 2022
The Avenue, a mixed-use project with a $300 million price tag (up from $200 million six years ago), is in the works for property on Military Cutoff Road in Wilmington. (File rendering)

The Avenue, a $300 million mixed-use project planned on Military Cutoff Road in Wilmington, could make headway early next year, but the project’s developer Roy Carroll is also monitoring the ebbs and flows of the economy and construction industry.

“Hopefully we'll get through technical review, and then that'll set us off to complete our plans,” said Greensboro-based Carroll, referring to the city of Wilmington’s technical review process, on Tuesday. “But we're already getting costs together and our hopes are in the first quarter to be able to move forward. Now that said, we, like everyone else in the country with development projects, are watching costs and inflation and all that and we are hopeful that things will start to settle down with the news that the Fed has made, that we'll start to see some more reasonable pricing out there in the construction marketplace.”

The Avenue has been in the works by The Carroll Companies for at least five years, with plans for a 234-room Westin hotel with ample meeting space, a spa island connected to the hotel, 525 apartments, nearly 148,000 square feet of office space and another 131,000 square feet for stores and restaurants. The latest plans also call for two parking decks with nearly 1,100 spaces.

Documents related to the overall site, utilities and landscaping have been submitted to the city's technical review site, but no committee review date had been set as of Tuesday afternoon.

Supply chain challenges have to be part of the equation for development projects, Carroll said.

“Right now, for example, electrical breaker panels are over a year out and you can't even find them. Transformers are six to eight months out. So the lead times on these things are tremendous,” he said. “And then on top of that, you've got prices just going through the roof – I mean we're seeing 25% and higher construction cost increases. 

“We and everyone else just would like to see that settle down a little bit before we pull the trigger and move forward with the vertical aspect of it [The Avenue].”

First, crews will be tackling “a tremendous amount” of infrastructure and subsurface work on the site at 347 Military Cutoff Road, Carroll said. A timeline on those tasks is hard to pin down because site work is weather-dependent.

"But once we start going vertical, the vertical construction on 80% of apartments and retail and everything and 100% of the hotel is a two-year window," he said.

The hotel, apartments and parking garages will likely start around the same time because they are linked, he said, and the hotel alone is expected to cost $100 million to build.

The spa island, although situated in a manmade lake, comes with a $3 million price tag, but it's a feature Carroll has intentionally kept in The Avenue’s plans.  

“What we've talked about from day one is creating something special enough and unique enough that people, not just people that live at The Avenue but people in the community, want to go there, park their car, walk around the streets, visit the lakeside, paddleboard in the lake, around the spa island, come to the spa for the day,” he said. “We're hopeful that a lot of citizens in Wilmington or around will just want to make a day out of it at The Avenue because it's such a unique, beautiful place.”

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