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Northern Downtown Restaurants Could Open By May

By Cece Nunn, posted Apr 14, 2017
A picture included in Wilmington City Council agenda documents for Tuesday night's council meeting shows the location of stand-alone bathrooms near northern riverfront restaurants.
Restaurants along the Riverwalk in northern downtown Wilmington could be open by May if city officials agree Tuesday to changes to a development agreement for the area.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the Wilmington City Council will consider modifying a development agreement for the developer of two restaurants, BlackFinn Ameripub and Vida, a Mexican restaurant, which were announced nearly five years ago. An additional eatery has been added to the plan, an outdoor dining venue called Boatyard that will use the BlackFinn kitchen but a separate wait staff to serve seafood boils, lobster rolls, shrimp and other items.

Under the potential change to the agreement, the eateries have to allow the public to use their bathrooms, according to city documents. And the restaurant developer, USA InvestCo, has agreed to build stand-alone temporary restrooms north of the restaurants.

Either USA InvestCo, which is also developing a Hotel Indigo in the area, or DeWitt Carolinas, a separate company that bought land from USA InvestCo to build apartments, would then be required to provide permanent public restrooms within three years depending on which project -- the hotel or the apartments -- gets built first, according to city documents. Construction work has not yet started on Hotel Indigo or the Pier 33 Apartments. 

If city officials agree to the development agreement change, certificates of occupancy could then be issued. USA InvestCo has booked events associated with the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament coming the first week of May. 

But the restaurants won't be open to the public until after that, said Chuck Schoninger, managing member of USA InvestCo, which also developed the Port City Marina and Pier 33 event venue at the marina.

Schoninger said Friday that restaurant equipment is being installed in BlackFinn, and BlackFinn and the Boatyard are expected to be open to the public by the week after the Wells Fargo Championship. The opening of Vida is expected to follow a few weeks later, he said.

BlackFinn and Vida were scheduled to open last year, but construction delays affected the timeline, Schoninger said.

The Wilmington City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in City Council Chambers at City Hall.

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