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For The City Of Wilmington, A $70M Yes Or No?

By Cece Nunn, posted Jun 6, 2023
The Local Government Commission approved the city of Wilmington's financing plan to buy the former PPD campus on North Front Street. (File photo)
It was the moment Wilmington officials had been waiting for – the state's Local Government Commission on Tuesday considering whether to approve a financing plan to buy the former PPD headquarters campus in downtown Wilmington.

City leaders had asked the LGC to give them the go-ahead to issue $70 million in limited obligation bonds to buy the former PPD headquarters campus at 929 N. Front St. 

In the end, the panel voted Tuesday afternoon in favor of the plan, but before the vote, State Treasurer Dale Folwell shared some concerns.

"I guess as I’m talking about this topic I'm still very uncomfortable with the price," said Folwell during the meeting, before being the sole LGC member to vote against the approval.

Folwell, who is running for governor, chairs the nine-member panel.

Wilmington's plan for the 12.5-acre property with a 12-story building is to consolidate its currently scattered offices in about half of the building. According to officials, the cost would be offset by selling the vacated city properties and leasing part of the 12 stories to other tenants.

"We will do everything in our power to make sure we get the maximum amount of return from the sale of those properties," City Manager Tony Caudle told the LGC on Tuesday. "It is crucial for us to be able to do that. Not that we need the money [to put] back into our fund, not that we need the money to be able to make the model work. But we believe that it's imperative that we get our top dollar for those pieces of property."

The city earlier this year entered into a purchase contract with Thermo Fisher Scientific, the global life sciences company that bought PPD and its property, and the agreement has a closing date of July 31.

Although the city's staff had proposed a tax increase to help pay for the campus, that idea was later scratched after council members questioned the need.
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