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Real Estate - Commercial

For Major Military Cutoff Development Proposal, Traffic A City Concern

By Cece Nunn, posted Jun 29, 2017
Greensboro-based Carroll Companies bought the Hidden Lakes Mobile Home Park property on Military Cutoff Road last year to develop a mixed-use project called The Avenue. (File photo)
A mixed-use project proposed on Military Cutoff Road that would be anchored by a Westin hotel could include up to 521 apartments, 237 hotel rooms and more than 300,000 square feet of office and retail space.

But traffic concerns are expected to drive some of the conversation as The Carroll Companies, a firm based in Greensboro, seeks a conditional rezoning and height exception for a potential project called The Avenue. The requests are part of the Wilmington Planning Commission's agenda July 12.

According to the Carroll Companies website, "The Avenue will be the new benchmark for luxury and style in the Southeast. This luxury, mixed-use development in Wilmington, NC, will feature 500 luxury apartment homes, a Westin Hotel, and approximately 320,000 sqft of retail and office space on an aesthetically striking thoroughfare."

The city staff members' recommendations on the rezoning and special use permit won't be available to the public until July 7, city officials said. But an already congested Military Cutoff Road is a major consideration, said Glenn Harbeck, director of planning, development and transportation for the city of Wilmington.

"It's a tough situation," Harbeck said this week. "They [Carroll Companies] know our biggest concern as a city is the traffic."

Officials with Carroll Companies declined to comment this week on the proposal and upcoming planning panel meeting. The company has been working with city and state transportation officials for several months to address traffic concerns about the project, city officials said.

The Carroll Companies is led by Roy Carroll, a native of Greensboro whose firm has 13,000 apartments, the Bee Safe self-storage company and the Rhino Times newspaper, in addition to other commercial properties, according to a recent Greensboro News & Record article about him. The story said Carroll plans to spend $75 million to $100 million to develop industrial sites in Guilford County, and he is currently working on a $65 million downtown Greensboro project called Carroll at Bellemeade that also features apartments and a hotel.

An 85,000-square-foot Bee Safe Storage facility has been in the works recently by The Carroll Companies for property on Market Street.

For The Avenue in Wilmington, the conditional district rezoning request the Planning Commission will consider in July would change the zoning of the 44 acres where The Avenue is planned, at 347, 349 and 565 Military Cutoff Road and 302 and 306 Lance Drive, from MHP, Manufactured Housing Park District, to a UMX, Urban Mixed-Use Conditional District. The Avenue special use permit request seeks an increase in building height of up to 75 feet. A height of 45 feet is allowed in a UMX zone by right.

A Traffic Impact Analysis approval letter dated June 9 from the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization includes a list of what could be done at The Avenue upon full build-out, if the rezoning and special use permit are approved. In addition to the 521 apartments and 237 hotel rooms, the list says the plan includes 146,100 square feet of general office space; 109,100 square feet for a shopping center; a 35,500-square-foot supermarket; and a 27,900-square-foot "high-turnover sit-down restaurant."

The Carroll Companies bought more than 30 acres, including the Hidden Lakes Mobile Home Park at 565 Military Cutoff Road, for more than $4 million last year, and the N.C. Commercial Multiple Listing Service said in January that a contract is pending on the 10 acres at 347 Military Cutoff Road.

Also in January, the Westin Hotels & Resorts website said The Westin Wilmington is expected to be opening at 347 Military Cutoff Road in 2021.

The Wilmington Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. July 12 in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 102 N. Third St.

A preliminary site plan (below) from October last year shows a conceptual layout for The Avenue.

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