Real Estate - Commercial

Northern Gateway Project Remains On Hold For Now

By Cece Nunn, posted Apr 23, 2021
Illustrative sketches were submitted as part of East West Partners' 2019 proposal for the Northern Gateway Project. (File rendering)
A city of Wilmington plan to work with a developer on transforming the city's northern gateway remains on hold for now.

Wilmington City Council on Tuesday voted for city officials to proceed with buying a parcel deemed necessary to incorporate into the Northern Gateway Project. 

The city is assuming the option to purchase the .39 acres at 1019 N. Third St. that was previously held by East West Partners. EWP is the developer of River Place in downtown Wilmington and the firm whose proposal for the Northern Gateway Project officials accepted in 2019.

Lucien Ellison, senior managing partner for EWP, said last week that until city officials and his firm can agree on purchase and development terms for the gateway project, it makes sense for the city to close on and control the $625,000 property at 1019 N. Third St. 

EWP's $90 million gateway proposal includes the potential for res­idential units, retail space, a hotel, a grocery store, a visitors center and parking decks. The project would be a public-private partnership between EWP and the city.

"Circumstances related to the pandemic caused progress on the gateway project to pause," said Jennifer Dandron, city spokeswoman, in an email this week. "The city does intend to bring the project to fruition, but that timeline will hinge to some degree on real estate market conditions as we emerge from the pandemic."

Ellison had a similar comment last week.

"When the pandemic started, the City of Wilmington understandably put the Gateway project on hold. Since then we have had discussions about restarting the process, but there is still not a clear path forward," he said.

Further explaining the importance of the Northern Gateway Project property, Dandron said, "As a key gateway location, the city has a significant interest in a high-quality development on this site that meets identified community needs and contributes to the city’s overall convenience, appearance, and quality of life."

The other city-owned properties that would be part of the project are 1020, 908 and 922 N. Front St. and 901 N. Third St.

The next step for the city would be to enter into a memorandum of understanding with EWP.

"Any future decisions would be made by council," Dandron said.
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