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New Zoning District Would Aid Plans For Major Riverfront Development

By Cece Nunn, posted Nov 4, 2021
A conceptual plan by Kersting Architecture shows the potential residential and commercial space developers want to build on the western shore of the Northeast Cape Fear River. (Courtesy of KFJ Development Group)
New Hanover County planning officials will consider a new zoning district that could make way for a major development project on the west bank of the Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear rivers.

The riverside project is being called Battleship Point, a $500 million development in the planning stages by a local partnership, KFJ Development Group.

Battleship Point would be located on about 8 acres on Point Peter, a jut of land across the river from downtown Wilmington.

Frank Pasquale of KFJ Development requested the text amendment for the new zoning type. Other partners in KFJ are Kirk Pugh of KBT Realty and Jim Lea III of Lea/Schultz Law.

The Battleship Point proposal calls for about 540 condos, 330 apartments, nearly 200,000 square feet of commercial space and a 76,000-square-foot luxury hotel. It also calls for buildings up to 240 feet, or 24 stories.

The proposed new district, Riverfront Urban Mixed-Use Zoning (RUMXZ), “combines concepts from the existing Riverfront Mixed Use Planned Development Zoning (RFMU), Urban Mixed-Use Zoning (UMXZ) and Planned Development (PD) districts,” according to agenda documents for the New Hanover County Planning Board’s meeting tonight. 

Pugh said Thursday, "​There are parts of the riverfront mixed use ordinance that don’t fit our vision or the conceptual plan that we have. Recognizing that that entire peninsula over there is somewhat unique and a traditional zoning ordinance probably doesn’t apply there in all cases, we chose to sort of blend, sort of a hybrid zoning ordinance that has components of the riverfront mixed use along with some aspects of Wilmington’s Central Business Distirct zoning to allow the height, the density, that sort of thing to accommodate our project."

The county’s planning staff recommended approval of the amendment.

“The applicant’s proposal includes a district size requirement between 5 and 10 acres; allows for a maximum by-right height of 240 feet; and accommodates a maximum density of 100 units per acre, when vertically integrated as part of a mixed-use building,” agenda documents stated. “Aside from dimensional standards, the district prescribes architectural and design elements, and promotes multi-modal transportation options.

"Similar to the existing mixed-use zoning districts, the proposed district would be established with a master plan of development, approved by the County Commissioners.”

A rezoning request also applied for by Pasquale, which would change the property's zoning from an industrial designation to the new RUMXZ, was moved from Thursday's agenda to the planning board's Dec. 2 meeting.

"We had hoped to do both things simultaneously tonight – both the text amendment and the zoning change; however, we got pushed into the December meeting waiting on the final determination from WMPO [Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization] and DOT [N.C. Department of Transportation] on our Traffic Impact Analysis," Pugh said. "We believe the end result is all going to be favorable."

The county planning panel meets at 6 tonight at the New Hanover County Historic Courthouse, 24 North Third St., Room 301.
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