Now that the pending sale of recreational facilities and green space at Echo Farms by the city of Wilmington and New Hanover County has been announced
, signs of new residential development in the neighborhood off Carolina Beach Road could begin before the end of this year.
The Woodlands at Echo Farms is expected to add single-family homes, townhomes and apartments to the housing inventory in Echo Farms, replacing the golf course that closed last year. News of the development of The Woodlands at Echo Farms in 2016 kicked off efforts to save for public use some of the green space.
These days, Echo Farms development company and golf course owner Matrix Development Group is "working through the final stages of [city] approvals for each of the tracts that are not yet fully approved," with the aim of presenting approved tracts to potential buyers, said Joe Taylor, president and CEO of Matrix Development Group, this week.
Matrix will likely sell most of the tracts in the more than 100-acre project, and those are being marketed to homebuilders.
"Wilmington benefits from having a number of really good quality builders down there," Taylor said. "We're showing them tracts fully approved."
Taylor said he expects to be able to make an announcement in the third or fourth quarter of this year about which builders will be creating the new homes. Matrix itself might participate in the development of one or two of the tracts, he said.
Taylor said the type of construction residents might begin to see before the end of this year would likely involve some clearing for roads and utilities for The Woodlands.
The city and county plan to buy 14 acres from Matrix for $1.7 million to create a park and preserve tennis courts and a swimming pool that were part of the Echo Farms Golf & Country Club. The resulting project to update the facilities, add more tennis courts and create the park is expected to cost an additional $2.7 million, with the city paying 50 percent of the property purchase and 40 percent of the cost of certain property improvements. Wilmington City Council members are slated to vote on the agreement at their meeting Tuesday.
The park announcement was a big step, Taylor said.
"Now we can finish up our final design and get moving. I'm glad for the Save Echo Farms group, who have really done an incredible job of lobbying Matrix as well as the city and the county to do this park," he said.
The city-county purchase helps settle some uncertainty for Echo Farms and surrounding neighborhoods, said Don Harris, a Realtor with the Keith Beatty Team of Intracoastal Realty.
Harris is an Echo Farms resident who is also marketing a separate luxury patio home project called The Villas at Echo Farms on Echo Farms Boulevard.
Of the park and recreational facilities being purchased by the city and county, Harris said, "It's going to help this side of town that's growing so rapidly, but it's also going to protect and serve the community. This is great news for us and the residents and future residents of Echo Farms."