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Castle Street Project 'ready To Go' Once State, City Agreements Secured

By Cece Nunn, posted Sep 16, 2020
A Castle Street redevelopment project would create housing and commercial space and renovate existing buildings on the former WAVE Transit bus maintenance site. (Photo courtesy of city agenda documents)

A project to redevelop the old Wave Transit property on Castle Street is "ready to go" once state and city agreements are in hand, the developer told city officials Tuesday night.

The Wilmington City Council unanimously approved a resolution allowing 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.

But before work can begin, the developer also needs a brownfield agreement with the state because of some environmental issues associated with the former bus maintenance site.

"We spent the last several months trying to finalize the proposal and I believe what you have before you is a strong proposal. . . We're excited to have this opportunity. We're ready to go," said Clark Hipp of Hipp Architecture & Development to the City Council on Tuesday. "We have met many of the requirements related to financial responsibility, related to the actual transference of the property from the city to the nonprofit community land trust. . . "

Hipp said the project timeline would be dependent on securing a brownfield agreement with the state by March 2021. An agreement could be back on the Wilmington City Council's agenda by November or December, officials said, depending on when lawyers agree on which state statute appropriately conveys the city-owned property at 1110 Castle St.

The 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 proposal would convey the property 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 residential units would be sold to people who are at or below 80% of the Area Median Income. The development team and nonprofit partners have been using $56,000 for the median income figure, but Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity often works with people who are at 50% of the median income, said Steve Spain, executive director of Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity.

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 project also has the potential to attract up to 15 commercial tenants, according to the city documents, which could also be growing non-profit organizations. The target finish date for the project is around the spring of 2022.

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