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Building Rehab Project Heads To State Transportation Board

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Oct 3, 2019

More approvals are needed before work can begin on a project to rehabilitate an old building on North Fourth Street for the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization's future office space.

Wilmington City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to let the city manager enter into an agreement with the N.C. Department of Transporation for the rehabilitation of a building at 525 N. Fourth St., which formerly housed Thomas Grocery.

Council also voted to transfer nearly $1.4 million in NCDOT funds to the city's buildings and facilities capital project fund to be used for the office project. The city has committed a local match of $340,000.

Now the city’s agreement will go before the state transportation board in early November, said Mike Kozlosky, executive director of the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO). The organization's office is currently at 305 Chestnut St.

If the transportation board approves the project and the Federal Highway Administration authorizes professional engineering services, "letters of interest and a solicitation for proposals for architectural services can begin for building layout and design as well as any environmental studies," Kozlosky said.

The WMPO serves seven municipalities, all of New Hanover County and portions of Brunswick and Pender counties. There are 12 full-time employees with the WMPO, he said, adding that one employee also works for the city.

The two-story brick building is about 4,000 square feet. The late-1800s structure was damaged by Hurricane Florence last year, Kozlosky said.

A spokesman for the city said Thursday that the city would maintain ownership of the building. The project is related to the Wilmington Multi-Modal Transportation Center project, which is set to be completed this fall.

The Fourth Street building is next to the center. Its rehabilitation and reuse were identified by the city as another phase to the multi-modal transportation center project.

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