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Timeline In Motion For Castle St. Redevelopment Project

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Aug 21, 2019
The lead developer for a proposed mixed-use development on city-owned land on Castle Street has hit the ground running to find financial backing for the project.

Finding financing to develop 1.5 acres of city-owned land, formerly used as Wave Transit maintenance facility, is part of a predevelopment timeline, now in action over the course of 120 days.

The Wilmington City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to allow Hipp Architecture & Development, the lead project developer, additional time to work on its proposal for a mixed-use development at 1110 Castle St.

Milestones within that timeline are slated to be completed before the city council considers whether to approve the development plan.

City staff previously recommended rejecting the proposal; however, the council in July decided to give the proposal more time and motioned to continue the item to Tuesday's meeting.

Finding financing is one of the biggest benchmarks in the overall project timeline, said Clark Hipp, of Hipp Architecture & Development.

It’s part of a timeline that was presented to the city Tuesday for the predevelopment phase, which includes securing letters of intent from investors and lenders; completing the development design and seeking TRC approval; obtaining a residential and commercial marketing study; and conducting a community engagement meeting, according to city documents.

"We had put a plan in place … in anticipation of the approval, and we are acting on that plan now,” Hipp said, adding that he had already met with one potential private investor Wednesday.

The mixed-use redevelopment proposal submitted by Hipp Architecture includes repurposing existing buildings on the property, constructing new buildings and parking.

The proposal has been adjusted from its original proposal back in May, when the city issued its request for proposals for the property's redevelopment. The firm’s proposal was the only one submitted through the RFP process.

Partners in the project are Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity and Cape Fear Community Land Trust. The firm plans within its timeline to reach agreements with the two organizations. The developer and its nonprofit partners aim to receive a donation of the land from the city. 

The plan now includes more residential density, Hipp said, including a mix of affordable units and market-rate units.

The original proposal assumed that the project would have only two-bedroom units, he said. The firm has since increased residential density by adding a mix of one- and two-bedroom units, Hipp said. The original 18 to 20 affordable units are still in the plan, as well as 15 to 17 market-rate units.

The added residential units have brought the project estimate to roughly $7.5 million, he said.
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