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Real Estate - Residential

More Apartments Planned For Downtown ILM

By J. Elias O'Neal, posted Jan 23, 2014
A preliminary plan for Sawmill Point, a 278-unit apartment development planned for north downtown Wilmington. (Contributed Rendering)
A new large-scale apartment development on prime riverfront property on the north side of downtown Wilmington is in the planning stages, according to a developer overseeing the project.
Blair M. Booth, manager of Cary-based Symphony Properties LLC, said Thursday his firm is planning to construct a four-story, 278-unit apartment development in the former Sawmill Marina property at 15 Cowan St.
The firm submitted site plans with the city Wednesday.
Called Sawmill Point, the development would incorporate a parking garage with 335 spaces and 92 additional parking spaces throughout the development. The apartments would be one- and two-bedroom units, ranging from 700 to 1,300 square feet in size, Booth said. Other amenities include a pool and access to a 42-slip marina.
Jeff Walton, a Wilmington city planner, said the site is zoned central business district – meaning the developer does not have to seek rezoning to build the apartment project. 
Booth said his firm placed the 8.06-acre site and marina under contract in October with an option to purchase the land. 
The property is currently owned by Charlotte-based South Street Partners, whose group – Sawmill Point Investors LLC – purchased the site in June 2012 for $3.6 million from SunTrust Bank.   
The 5.42-acre “Upper Dean” property, adjacent to the future Sawmill Point development fronting Front Street, remains for sale. Booth said his firm does not have plans to purchase the site.
Pending proper permitting and city approval, officials hope to break ground on the multimillion dollar project this summer, Booth said. He said that if the estimated timeline remains in place, the first units could be ready for occupancy by early summer of 2015. He said the remaining units would come on board by the end of 2015.  
Booth said the development would be strictly residential, and no commercial components would be incorporated into the design.
Sawmill Point’s future apartment development adds to a wave of new projects that are slated for or underway in north downtown Wilmington, also coined Old Northside.
Booth said the area’s momentum and recent city investment, including the future 6.63-acre riverfront park and the continued expansion of the Riverwalk, made the Sawmill site attractive for development.

“The downtown Wilmington market is much more vibrant than it was four or five years ago,” Booth said. "We think the economics work, and we’re very excited about the opportunity.
“We really like the Wilmington market and want to have a greater presence there."

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