The entrance to Echo Farms Golf & Country Club off Carolina Beach Road. The owner of the golf course has submitted plans to the city for a townhouse tract inside the development. (Photo by Cece Nunn)
The developer of Echo Farms has submitted a plan to the city of Wilmington for one of the townhouse tracts of a proposed community that would replace the Echo Farms golf course.
As part of The Woodlands at Echo Farms, Matrix Development Group wants to build 62 townhouses on nearly 12 acres at Echo Farms Boulevard and Appleton Way.
"Matrix’s most recent submission to the SRB [Subdivision Review Board] on June 6th reflects changes made to the original concept. When Matrix initially submitted for approvals of The Woodlands, Tract 3C was not fully engineered but intended to include 82 townhomes," said Joe Taylor, president and CEO of Matrix, in an email Thursday. "Following meetings with the Save Echo Farms representatives, where we walked the property, we've revised the Tract 3C plans to consist of 62 townhouses."
Save Echo Farms is a community group formed to help preserve greenspace.
Taylor said that although Tract 3C was the first tract application to be submitted, it is not intended to be the first portion of The Woodlands constructed.
"Over the summer, we will continue to submit detailed engineering drawings for additional tracts of The Woodlands. Our intention is to obtain all necessary approvals and to begin construction by year end for both single family homes and townhomes," Taylor said.
Original overall plans for The Woodlands at Echo Farms announced in December
had called for a total of 171 single family homes, 125 townhomes and 240 apartments.
Demand for all of the housing types has been on the rise in the region, with new single-family homes and apartments being built and more townhomes added to new and existing neighborhoods. Townhouses are typically multi-story dwellings attached to one or more similar houses by shared walls.
"We believe both residential product types [single-family and townhouses] are highly desirable in Wilmington - particularly in the Echo Farms area as we've seen an increase in demand for high-quality, fairly-priced homes," Taylor said.
As Matrix continues development plans, also in the works are efforts by residents, with some elected officials
joining the discussion, to potentially turn parts of the project into a park.
"We continue to have conversations with the city and county regarding a potential park; however, at this time we do not have anything new to report on this matter," Taylor said in the Thursday email.
New Hanover County Board of Commissioners chairman Woody White said in a text Thursday that after talks in April, "it was left with the city for next steps, if any, to be taken" on park discussions.
Some residents with existing homes at Echo Farms have been opposed to The Woodlands entirely, and the Echo Farms Residents’ Association is involved in an ongoing court case
to halt the proposal.
Meanwhile, the Save Echo Farms group has been working with the developer to make changes to The Woodlands while pursuing the potential for a park.
In an email and Facebook post Thursday, officials with the group said that the organization is ramping up awareness efforts on the park project.
"We have ordered more yard signs, and would like some help getting them placed in high traffic locations. We also have a tri-fold brochure, and ask that our followers help us in getting them into locations like museums, businesses, at group meetings, etc. Bumper stickers are also available; all of these can be obtained by going to our website at www.echofarmspark.com which has now been updated to include more information on what we see that the park project can become," the post said.
The efforts also include creating a 15-minute presentation to make to civic groups and plans to man booths at local festivals during the summer, "all to help raise awareness of the opportunity for the city and county to purchase this 140 acre gem at an extremely reduced price for comparable acreage in the city. There is no other property like this anywhere that the city or county could purchase that can do so much good," the Facebook post said.
Of Tract 3C, the post said the townhouse units "would be more like or larger than the existing neighboring properties, thus less of a chance of reducing values in the neighboring developments."
Conversations between Matrix and Save Echo Farms about other tracts are expected to continue.
"During our conversations with Matrix, we requested again that SEF meet with the developer and walk the other tracts of the possible development. Doing this, we can show them what our changes to their original plans can do to raise the values of both their development and our property values," the SEF post said. "They have agreed to work on the rest of it in a similar way that we worked Tract 3C with them. That work will continue at the same time that we are working towards the park project."