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Castle Street Redevelopment Project Gets Closer To Agreement

By Cece Nunn, posted Sep 11, 2020
A proposed redevelopment of the site at 1110 Castle St. would incorporate the former WAVE Transit bus maintenance facilities with new buildings. (Rendering courtesy of Hipp Architecture & Development)
An $8 million redevelopment project on Castle Street in Wilmington could get started as early as fall of next year, according to city documents. 

A resolution up for consideration by the Wilmington City Council next week authorizes the city staff to proceed with finalizing an agreement with Hipp Architecture & Development PC for the transfer of the city-owned site at 1110 Castle St.

A redevelopment of the property that holds former WAVE Transit facilities is expected to complement other projects in the area. It would be a mixed-use project with residential uses and commercial tenants.

"We're thankful that they [city officials] gave us the time to put the team together to make it happen. We're thankful that we've got organizations ready to put the housing in the affordable market," said Clark Hipp of Hipp Architecture & Development PC. "We're excited about the potential for providing commercial retail space for community service groups. We're just excited and anxious to get started."

The development team includes two major investors, Hipp and Ken Dull of McKinley Building Corp.

"This team has the financial capacity to secure funding for construction and long-term management of the project," a description of the project by Hipp stated. "We have provided herein a statement from South State Bank acknowledging the financial ability of this team to complete a project of this scale and scope."

The latest version of the development proposal calls for renovating two existing buildings at the site, formerly WAVE Transit bus maintenance bays, and creating two multi-story structures with ground-level commercial space; 23 residential units; on-site parking; and open space, according to city documents explaining the resolution. 

The residential units would be sold to people who are at or below 80% of the Area Median Income. According to the Census Bureau, the median income in Wilmington in 2018 was about $45,000.

The project also has the potential to attract up to 15 commercial tenants, according to the city documents.

Dull said although it's not an official part of the plan at this point, he envisions some of the redevelopment project space potentially being used to house nonprofit organizations that outgrow their space at The Harrelson Center at 20 N. Fourth St. in downtown Wilmington or from elsewhere. 

"There are so many good non-profits in this town. All they need is just a little help with the next step," Dull said Friday. "We feel like through our connections with The Harrelson Center and their connections with the rest of the nonprofit people in town that there will be no problem filling these buildings up with good, mission-based nonprofits."

During three extensions of the exploratory phase of the project, an environmental assessment showed some concerns "particularly in relation to the existing rear building and around the above ground fuel tank. Soil contamination from fuel is the concern in these areas," according to agenda documents.

They go on to say that a Brownfield Agreement with the state will define any mitigation requirements necessary for the project based on its environmental assessment.

Hipp said the Brownfield Agreement application is prepared "and once we get approval from the city of the development agreement, we will submit that applicaiton, and we feel confident that we can do what we want to do based on the information that we have. But it still is a three- to six-month process to get the Brownfield Agreement actually executed with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality."

The target completion date for the redevelopment is in the spring of 2022. According to the proposed project schedule, the existing buildings would be rehabilitated first, possibly as early as fall of next year. 

"The current schedule is based on the expected receipt of the Brownfield Agreement in the spring of 2021," city documents stated. "If the attached, proposed resolution is passed by Council, staff will determine the applicable statutes under which the proposed deal structure can be accommodated prior to placing the matter on a future agenda for Council final consideration."

The structure of the development team also includes a partnership between Hipp Architecture & Development and Cape Fear Community Land Trust, the documents state.

"The proposal envisions that the property will be conveyed to the Cape Fear Community Land Trust. The Land Trust will enter into an agreement with the Developer to construct the project. The Land Trust will provide a long-term lease to the Developer. The Developer will sell the residential units to Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity and East Coast Community Development Inc.," according to the resolution explanation. "The Developer will lease and sell the commercial units."

The resolution will be considered by the Wilmington City Council at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Wilmington Convention Center, 10 Convention Center Drive.
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