Developers plan to break ground soon on upscale apartments in a mixed-use development, where 25 acres of commercial land is currently under contract on Carolina Beach Road.
Meridian at Fairfield Park, made up of 241 units and a variety of amenities, will join a growing list of apartment projects under construction.
“This has been pending for quite some time, but it’s finally going forward,” said Richard Cotton, a broker and managing director of Muiltifamily Realty Advisors. Cotton represents Neal Hunt, a state senator who owns the property where the apartments will be built.
NorthView Partners, a Raleigh-based firm and development partner in Meridian at Fairfield Park, will close on a construction loan and begin building this month, said Mark Barker, CEO and principal of NorthView Partners.
Brokers and developers say getting the apartment project started could be a catalyst for the three commercial portions of Fairfield Park, a 123-acre development zoned MX. Two of those segments totaling nearly 25 acres, at 4456 and 4544 Fairview Drive along Carolina Beach Road, are under contract with an out-of-state developer, said F. Spruill Thompson, senior vice president of Cape Fear Commercial. No other details about the developer’s plans were available.
Thompson and Will Leonard, another broker at Cape Fear Commercial, are the listing agents for the tracts under contract, as well as 4301 Carolina Beach Road, a Fairfield Park commercial segment consisting of about 4.5 acres at the corner of Carolina Beach Road and George Anderson Drive.
In the past, commercial tracts within Fairfield Park were designated to be developed as a combination of retail, office, and residential in a “town center” setting, according to older marketing materials for the apartment site.
The single-family home phase of Fairfield Park, more than 200 detached homes and town homes, were fully developed by 2004 and sold within 15 months. “High density residential development surrounding the property creates an ideal environment for retailers, as the area is currently underserved by core retail service,” a marketing flyer for the sites states.
Whichever businesses come to the area, "when those elements are within walking distance, that's a huge benefit, a huge plus" for residents, Barker said. "It just adds to it and makes it even better."
Barker said the start of construction on Meridian at Fairfield Park has taken a little longer than anticipated.
"It's still a difficult lending environment to work through and all those things take time -- to get all of your approval permits and get your loan," he said.
But there is a bright side to that lag, Barker said, in that it generally takes about a year to deliver the first units of an apartment project, which puts the Fairfield Park apartments in a good position for the spring 2016 leasing season. Lease rates the one- to three-bedroom apartments could be in the $700 to $1,300 range, Barker said.
Overall, the area's apartment market continues to thrive, with demand for new apartments in Wilmington proving to be "exceptionally strong," according to a third quarter update by Multifamily Realty Advisors, a regional commercial real estate firm that focuses on apartment brokerage and development in the Triangle and Wilmington areas.
In Wilmington, more than 1,300 apartments in eight communities were at various stages of construction as of Sept. 30, according to the report, and more than 1,800 units were part of nine proposed projects, including Meridian at Fairfield Park.