Wilmington City Council gave the OK to rezone a one-acre plot located at 1745 Sir Tyler Drive across from Mayfaire to allow for the construction of a new 12,000-square-foot Goodwill donation center and store during its March 5 meeting at City Hall.
This decision came despite protests from neighboring businesses, who voiced concern about potential traffic increases and decreased property values.
Representatives from neighboring businesses worried the flow of tractor trailers in and out of the facility and their visibility parked outside throughout the day set a bad precedent for the area as it continues to grow.
Following the public hearing, there was a long pause before anyone would make a motion to approve. While several council members discussed concerns voiced during the hearing, ultimately Councilman Kevin O’Grady was the only member to cast his vote against the decision.
“This is a class-A office park,” O’Grady said. “I’m concerned that we’re disrupting the plan by putting this commercial building in the middle of it.”
Moving to downtown news, council unanimously approved the award of a design contract and $352,000 to Andrew Consulting Engineers for improvements to Water Street and Riverfront Park. Early projections have construction beginning in January 2014 and finishing by early 2015.
These improvements are Phase I of the Riverfront Park Master Plan, which was adopted by city council in April 2012. Phase one will renovate the park from Market Street to Princess Street and investigate the feasibility of adding public restrooms downtown.
Previous feasibility studies estimated that additional bathrooms would cost the city $100,000.
Scheduled changes to the Riverfront include the removal of the raised wooden platform at the foot of Market Street in favor of a lower raised platform to enhance views of the Cape Fear River, renovations to Water Street, a shaded pergola with possible swinging benches, new planters with more trees and a decorative fountain.
Phase I also includes work on the bulkhead at the foot of Market Street, improvements to stormwater drainage systems and improved handicapped access to the Riverwalk.
City staff estimates the total cost of the improvements to Water Street and Riverfront Park will cost $2.9 to $3.3 million. The city has allocated $4.8 million for riverfront improvements as part of the city’s five-year improvement plan.
Council also unanimously approved amendments to an agreement drafted in June 2009 with Newland Communities regarding the proposed Riverlights community along River Road.
These amendments allow for an increase in residential units and the density of those units, delayed payment to the city for road interconnectivity and road completion, and a later date for the relocation of the Wilmington Police Department’s nearby firing range.
Council originally approved 2,290 single family residential units for the community, but the recent amendment gives the developer flexibility to increase that number to 2,790 units. The new amendment also increased the size of a multi-family portion of the community from 100 acres to 150 acres.
This increase in residential units comes at the expense of commercial space within the community. For every single-family unit, the community will sacrifice 500 square feet of commercial space. For every multi-family unit, the community will sacrifice 300 square feet.
Michael Lee, who represented Newland Communities at the meeting, cited a poor economy and uncertainty regarding future market needs as reasons for the amendments. He said the amendments will allow the developer more flexibility to adapt the community to fit the needs of a changing market.