Not long after Mayfaire Town Center welcomed its first shoppers, business leaders began to ask where the next Mayfaire might be built.
Ten years later, developers of major master-planned, mixed-use projects in the Wilmington-area don’t expect to duplicate Mayfaire exactly, though their concepts include some of the same elements.
Blake Farm, a 1,300-acre master-planned development off U.S. 17 in Pender near the New Hanover County line, is one example of a community that would share some characteristics of Mayfaire. Set to break ground during the first quarter of 2015, the project could add 2,200 homes to the 28411 zip code over the next decade and includes more than 50 acres for potential commercial development along U.S. 17 and Sidbury Road.
But while there might be some similarities, “Mayfaire is very well-established, and it is basically ground zero for the national retail demographic in Wilmington,” said Raiford Trask III, president of Trask Land Co., part of the Blake Farm development team. “I think what Blake Farm has – it’s going to be more accessible to different pockets of the population.”
Trask said the connection of Interstate 140 to U.S. 17 and additional future road improvements will bring more traffic to the site.
“It’s going to be a natural dropping off point for South Carolina traffic as well as Onslow County traffic,” in addition to being reachable with a straight shot from downtown Wilmington, Trask said.
While he had no specifics on commercial tenants for Blake Farm to share during a recent interview about the development, Trask said, “I think your will see demand for growth and retailers and office, similar to the Military Cutoff corridor, at Blake Farm and Scotts Hill.”
He said Blake Farm would be a natural extension of the Porters Neck commercial market, where a Wal-Mart shopping center is under construction and more commercial development in the works.
“As that becomes more mature, we will see a greater influx of national retail,” Trask said.
But in the case of Blake Farm, residential will come first. To start, crews will be putting in an entry road from U.S. 17 “through our commercial piece and into our first phase of residential, where we will have 270 lots and our first phase of amenities.”
Trask partnered with the Onslow County division of Pluris LLC to build a wastewater treatment facility for Blake Farm to accommodate future growth.
All of the homes and neighborhood aesthetics in Blake Farm will be based on the Cape Fear Heritage Architectural guidelines created during the development of Autumn Hall, a 236-acre mixed-use development along Eastwood Road.
At Autumn Hall, residential activity has included the construction of apartments, condos and homes.
Work continues on Carolina Bay at Autumn Hall, which will include a complex for seniors and retirees, with an expected opening of October.
And medical offices have opened on the site. Autumn Hall Town Center, planned to include retail establishments, restaurants, offices and a hotel is also in the works, led by Cape Fear Commercial.
Developers submitted plans to the city of Wilmington recently for a nearly 25,000-square-foot building called Dungannon Village. But that structure, for the time being, will be home to office space and limited-destination retail opportunities, such as a coffee shop, said Mike Brown of Cape Fear Commercial.
The aesthetics of Dungannon Village will follow a style common to the entire development, with touches reminiscent of high-end, historic residential architecture like that of homes seen in downtown Wilmington, Brown said.
At 17th Street and George Anderson Drive in Wilmington, construction is under way on Gallery Park Apartments, one of the first pieces of Gallery Park, a planned 300-acre development that ultimately could consist of additional homes, office and institutional buildings and commercial tenants on land owned by Cameron Management Inc.
It’s unlikely the commercial portion of the development will duplicate Mayfaire, said Hill Rogers, broker in charge for Cameron Management.
“There could be some overlap of stores, but I think it might be a lot more entertainment-oriented,” Rogers said. “Or, if we’re lucky enough, we get some stores that are new to the market that aren’t at Mayfaire or anywhere else in Wilmington.”
RiverLights, a nearly 1,400-acre development planned on 2.5 miles along the Cape Fear River off River Road, can hold up to 2,700 homes.
Like Mayfaire, the community will include a variety of housing types.
Although the development is also zoned to allow for 1 million square feet of commercial property on 184 acres, the focus of the community will likely be placed more on the residential side, said Livian Jones, vice president of operations for RiverLights.
Under development by Newland Communities, RiverLights is not expected to have big-box tenants in its commercial area, Jones said.
When it comes to retail and office space, “I think our feel will be more of a Lumina Station-feel” with its low-country design, she said.
Developers have placed an emphasis on providing amenities for RiverLights residents, including kayaking, exercise areas, bike trails and walking paths. The amenities will also include a 112-slip marina and a 30-acre interior lake.
RiverLights is expected to capitalize on the city’s marine heritage along with the site’s natural environment, which in addition to its location along the Cape Fear, includes access to Barnards Creek and Motts Creek.
Whatever the future holds, developers say RiverLights will have an impact on the surrounding area, much as Mayfaire has had in the past 10 years.
“I think Mayfaire has been a great driver for that part of the county,” Jones said.
“We’re hoping that Newland is going to do the same thing for the southern part of the county, that it’s going to be a big boost for the River Road area.”
Read more about Mayfaire's decade of development here