The following are excerpts from the most-read stories of the year, excluding restaurant news stories, by online readers.
1. Hello again, Henrietta: new dinner cruise boat floats into downtown wilmington
Published May 21: Another Henrietta has floated into downtown Wilmington. The owners of Cape Fear Riverboats, which previously owned Henrietta III and Henrietta II before selling them, bought a 118-passenger riverboat-style vessel named the Southern Belle in Alabama and have renamed it Henrietta, bringing it home to the Port City.
The boat has been at a Navassa boatyard, Cape Fear Boat Works, for a couple of months getting fixed up and refurbished for sightseeing and dinner cruises and private charters, said Capt. Carl Marshburn, who runs Cape Fear Riverboats along with his son, Capt. Daren Marshburn.
2. Andrew Gray, tech entrepreneur and cofounder of Tayloe/Gray, dies
Published Oct. 7: Andrew Gray, co-founder and chief technology officer at Tayloe/Gray, a digital marketing agency, died Oct. 5 at the age of 42 in his Wilmington home.
Stephen Bon, president and founder of Bon’s Eye Marketing, said, “Andrew was an exceptionally passionate, authentic guy that wanted to make a positive change in the world around him. His energy was blinding at times. His business vision, devotion to friends, and willingness to guide others using his own personal experiences, helped so many people – including myself.”
Gray was from Windsor, Connecticut, and he founded two real estate data management startups, Liststream and Commerciality Inc., in the late 1990s.
In 2009, Gray partnered with longtime business associate and friend Nathan Tayloe to start Tayloe/Gray in Wilmington.
3. Waste Industries purchases Pink-Trash
Published March 4: Pink-Trash, a locally owned trash and recycling pickup service, was purchased by Waste Industries, in a deal for an undisclosed amount that took effect March 1.
Pink-Trash was launched in 2011. The company, known for its pink trash cans, had a business model that donated 1% of its residential and commercial customers’ bills to go toward cancer treatment.
4. In Wilmington, Lidl store under construction, set to be done by August
Published May 20: Construction was underway in May for the new Lidl store opening at 1445 Eastwood Road, which was expected to be complete by the end of August, according to Zach Klassen, project engineer with EMJ Construction.
(Update: The nearly 30,000-square-foot store ended up opening Dec. 4.)
5. At Independence Mall, signs show Lidl grocery store, other new tenants on the way
Published Sept. 23: Lidl is among several new tenants coming soon to Wilmington’s Independence Mall, officials said in September.
The German-based discount grocery store chain was pictured in a rendering posted inside the mall, along with signs indicating some new tenants for the property, which is slated for redevelopment.
Mall officials confirmed that the other tenants include Blaze Pizza, a pizza eatery with a location in Renaissance Market shopping center; First Watch, a Florida-based restaurant chain; Jersey Mike’s Subs, a New Jersey-based sandwich shop; and Five Below, a Philadelphia-based value retailer geared toward teens.
6. Entrepreneur Richard Johnson’s latest project aims to boost Burgaw
Published June 14: Burgaw Now, a campaign to promote Burgaw, launched its website ahead of the N.C. Blueberry Festival in June in hopes of bringing in more businesses, including two restaurants, and reviving the farming town.
The campaign is the brainchild of Richard Johnson, Wilmington resident, Penderlea Farms owner and entrepreneur, who founded and sold HotJobs.com to Yahoo in 2001 for more than $400 million.
7. Property owner gets $20M loan for Surf City housing development
Published Feb. 22: Plans for a residential home development in Surf City moved forward in 2019 with a $20 million loan to develop 415 single- family homes at the intersection of Belt Road and N.C. 50.
Surf City Properties LLC borrowed $20.8 million from Trez Forman Capital Group to pay off a previous $2.5 million loan provided by Trez Forman for the land purchase and to cover development costs for construction of the homes, according to a news release.
8. NHRMC to explore potential sale of hospital
Published July 23: New Hanover Regional Medical Center is looking at whether to sell the health system, officials announced in July.
After a decade of steady growth in revenues and services, the notfor- profit system that is the region’s largest employer wanted to solicit bids to decide whether it makes sense to change ownership.
9. River Place developer proposes $90M downtown gateway project
Published Sept. 19: The developer of the 13-story River Place project in Wilmington submitted the only proposal responding to the city’s request for development plans that could transform downtown’s northern gateway. East West Partners, a Chapel Hill-based development firm, submitted a $90 million proposal that includes multiple buildings in a mixed-use development. The project, a public-private partnership, would be built on a site that includes city-owned land.
10. GE Aviation looking to recruit 70 skilled workers
Published Sept. 19: It may be a sign of the times: GE Aviation’s Wilmington plant anticipates a need for 70 more manufacturing employees, and has posted “We’re Hiring”-type messages on area billboards, a move not seen before in Wilmington from the organization.
“The billboards are part of a new awareness and recruiting focus at the Wilmington site,” said Anthony Parnell, senior employee human resources manager at GE Aviation’s Wilmington plant. “We obviously would love to hire local talent, so the objective is to reach local talent in a way that we haven’t tried in the past.”