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Real Estate - Residential

Development Update: A Look At Three Area Apartment Projects

By Cece Nunn, posted Sep 10, 2021
A rendering of Switchyard, an apartment community planned on a 10-acre site off Market Street in Wilmington. (Courtesy of Kersting Architecture)
Developers are working on creating hundreds of apartment units in Wilmington and surrounding communities, with some proposals farther along in the development process than others. The following are updates on three of the many projects in the area that include apartments.
 

Switchyard

Description: A community planned to contain 192 apartments on 10 acres off 3804 Market St., with 48 two-bedroom units and 144 one-bedroom/studio units. The site is part of the historic Pearsall Memorial Church preservation and redevelopment by Wilmington-based PBC Design + Build, which is also developing Switchyard.

Property status: PBW Holdings LLC bought the development site in 2020 for $600,000 from Artillery Investments LLC, according to property tax records.

Development status: A formal review by the city of Wilmington’s Technical Review Committee is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 7. 

Developer’s take: Dave Spetrino, president of PBC, said the effect on the neighborhood of Switchyard will be positive. “It allows our city to thoughtfully evolve through infill development, thickening as we grow within a mix of existing uses and traffic patterns,” Spetrino wrote in the application for a rezoning that was granted last year. He said Thursday, "We're tryig to do a project that's not only relevant but also a bit more innovative. We're putting both the envirnoment as well as our future neighbors' needs first," referring to how only about 2.5 acres of the site is being used for the apartrments, incorporating the natural landscape.


The Proximity

Description: A mixed-use project called The Proximity that would include apartments, office space and commercial areas, including retail establishments and restaurants on property at Lake Park Boulevard and St. Joseph Street in Carolina Beach. Previous plans, which were eventually scrapped, involved a Harris Teeter grocery store on the site.

Property status: The potential developer, Cape Fear Commercial, has 12 acres under contract.

Development status: At a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Carolina Beach Town Council will consider a change to its commercial-residential mixed-use rules to allow standalone residential buildings on a site of 10 acres or greater. The change is needed for The Proximity to continue in a process that will still require numerous reviews and approvals before the development could become a reality, the developers say.  

Developer’s take: Cape Fear Commercial’s development arm, GHK Cape Fear Development, has created a website to share details about The Proximity and allow community members to share their opinions. Although only one community meeting is required, the developers have hosted seven community meetings and said they are committed to working with the community on the project from start to finish. 

“This is what we do at GHK Cape Fear – we have found our developments get better the more we involve the community and gather feedback. The development will contribute to the town’s tax base and is a unique opportunity to enhance lifestyle offerings in the Carolina Beach community with a thoughtful blend of residential, retail, office, and live-work, all of which will be in keeping with the coastal design and the fabric of Carolina Beach,” said Brian Eckel, partner at GHK Cape Fear Development, in an email echoing The Proximity website's description. “The project will also have a multi-use path that ties into the Island Greenway System, as well as expanded greenspace and bike storage for community use and enjoyment.”
 

Middle Sound West

Description: Developers proposed 288 apartments and some office/retail space at 7241 Market St., seeking a special use permit in 2019. 

Property status: Entities of Wilmington-based development and property management firm Tribute bought more than 31 acres at 7241 Market St. from Coswald LLC for $7 million in August, according to deeds. 

Development status: Last year, New Hanover County officials denied the developers’ request for a special use permit for the project, citing roadway and stormwater concerns. The previous property owner, Coswald LLC, and Tribute Investment and Development Inc. disagreed with the county's assertions and sued the county and the Board of Commissioners. A Superior Court judge sided with the county in the case, but Coswald and Tribute appealed that ruling. According to the N.C. Court of Appeals docket, the next court date in the case could be this month, with Sept. 22 listed as an “argue date.”

Developer’s take: Officials with Tribute and the county declined to comment for this update.
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