The following were the most-read Greater Wilmington Business Journal online stories of 2020 as of December, according to Google Analytics.
1. Two pilots set to film in Wilmington
In February, two pilot film projects were getting ready to roll in Wilmington.
One was the CW’s television pilot The Lost Boys and the other, ordered by Fox, was called This Country.
Filming in general halted in March when the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. The Lost Boys, which was being filmed for a potential series based on the 1987 vampire horror movie of the same name, never got restarted. Entertainment websites call the project “in limbo.”
But This Country, based on a BBC series, did resume filming and was one of five film projects that were underway or just wrapping in the Port City in December.
2. Downtown Wilmington restaurant closes permanently
Stalk & Vine owner Zac Brown announced via social media in May that his downtown Wilmington bar and restaurant would be closing permanently in the wake of COVID-19.
“Our 9 months of operations were riddled with a short first summer, Hurricane Dorian, the first slow winter, and then the COVID-19 pandemic.” Brown said in a Facebook post May 29. “The fact of the matter is Stalk & Vine didn’t have enough time to develop the foundation needed to navigate that series of events, particularly this pandemic.”
3. Oak Island motel changes hands
A vacation rental firm based in Surf City announced in August that it was aiming to gain a foothold on Oak Island with the purchase of Island Resort & Inn, now called The Beach House @ Oak Island by Carolina Retreats.
Carolina Retreats bought the 22- room property, at 500 Ocean Drive in the town of Oak Island, for $1.165 million from the Canning family.
“We’ve acquired a few vacation rental businesses over the years,” said Mike Harrington, owner of Carolina Retreats. “This is something a little bit different for us, but we look at it as an anchor on Oak Island for our business, something we can own and renovate and turn back into a prized possession and asset for the community.”
The first phase of renovations for The Beach House @ Oak Island have started and are expected to be complete within the next few months.
4. SBA lenders prepare for a wave of relief program applications
In April, even before they could begin processing applications for the Paycheck Protection Program, the federal government’s business relief initiative, SBA lenders were working feverishly to prepare for an anticipated high level of demand for the loans.
One example of the outcome: As of Aug. 8, when the initial PPP closed, Wilmington-based Live Oak Bank had lent more than $1.7 billion to more than 11,000 borrowers nationwide, including 740 in Wilmington.
New relief for small businesses was included in an economic stimulus bill signed into law in December.
5. After months of closure, Planet Fitness among area’s open gyms
Officials with local Planet Fitness locations announced in August that they had reopened after being closed since a shutdown in March. They joined other smaller area gyms, such as Anytime Fitness, TF Fitness + Nutrition and Axis Fitness, which reopened in June following a letter released by the state attorney general’s office that indicated gyms could be open to members whose medical providers have directed them to exercise.
In September, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that gyms could reopen at 30% capacity, later requiring users to use masks.
6. Publix buys center, land in Carolina Beach for more than $21M
In June, Publix Super Markets bought property that includes its store in Carolina Beach for more than $21.7 million, tax records showed.
The Carolina Beach purchase involved 10.7 acres that hold the 46,000-square-foot Publix and six units in the Publix Commons at Federal Point center, 1018 N. Lake Park Blvd. The transaction also included 2.4 undeveloped acres at 1001 St. Joseph St. that could hold buildings in the future.
The Carolina Beach Publix store opened in June 2019.
The seller in the June 10 transaction was Carolina Beach Development Company 1 LLC, a GHK Cape Fear entity.
7. Plans change for Harris Teeter site in Carolina Beach
In Carolina Beach in July, gone was a sign that proclaimed land at 1000 N. Lake Park Blvd. as the future site of a Harris Teeter grocery store.
The 7 undeveloped acres owned by Jubilee Carolina LLC, a Harris Teeter entity, held a commercial real estate sign from MPV Properties that said the land is “for sale or build to suit.”
Harris Teeter is not moving forward with the Carolina Beach store, a commercial broker said, but other businesses could be on the way.
Jubilee Carolina LLC purchased the property for $2 million in 2010, according to property tax records.
The property is adjacent to a Publix grocery store-anchored center and was involved in a lawsuit initiated by Jubilee Carolina LLC over the Publix development. A ruling against Jubilee on the matter was upheld by the state Court of Appeals.
8. More commercial development coming to Leland
The booming town of Leland’s commercial real estate scene continues to grow. For example, Pizzetta’s Pizzeria has been planning to grow on its success in Brunswick Forest with a stand-alone building.
New development also includes fast-food chain Wendy’s and plans by Wrightsville Beach Brewery to bring a craft brewery and restaurant to the area.
On top of the eateries coming in, there are also plans for Liberty HomeCare & Hospice Services to bring in new development.
Among other projects, developers are also working on a contract to bring in a 24-hour convenience store at the corner of Lanvale and U.S. 17, with sights set on starting construction in 2021.
There is interest in another two-story medical building, directly in front of the current EmergeOrtho building. The builder could construct something similar to the current EmergeOrtho facility.
A parcel of land has also been sold to a curling club, which will be a private endeavor located next to the House of Pickleball in Brunswick Forest.
And south of the curling club’s land, the developer has donated more than 30 areas of land to the town of Leland for recreational use.
9. Wilmington apartment complexes sell to New Jersey firm for $35M
A New Jersey-based company invested last year in two apartment communities in Wilmington.
Eskay Management bought Osprey Landing and 34 North for a total sales price of more than $35 million, according to a November news release from Aline Capital’s Multifamily Advisory Division. Combined, the apartment complexes contain 368 units.
Osprey Landing is at 800 Walden Drive near Greenfield Lake and 34 North is at 603 Plum Nearly Lane near South Kerr Avenue.
10. Investors pour money into Next Glass; new CEO named
Next Glass Inc., the parent company of Untappd, received a strategic investment from a Boston-based equity firm that officials say will accelerate the Wilmington-based company’s growth.
Next Glass also named Trace Smith as CEO, replacing Kurt Taylor, company founder, after Taylor stepped down from the role.
Providence Strategic Growth, an affiliate of Providence Equity Partners, made a strategic investment in Next Glass Inc. to help grow the business, Smith said at the time.
The ownership details and terms of the transaction with Providence Strategic Growth (PSG), which took place in March, were not disclosed.
With the transaction, Next Glass will maintain its headquarters at 21 S. Front St. in downtown Wilmington, said Smith, who previously served as COO of the firm.