OPINION: State Panel Should Put Project Grace On Its September Agenda

By Spence Broadhurst, posted Aug 29, 2023
Spence Broadhurst

I am honored and privileged to serve our community for more than two decades throughout my professional career. I fully support Project Grace, the reimagined partnership between New Hanover County, Cape Fear Development, LS3P, and Monteith Construction.

Project Grace will be a valuable resource that will empower New Hanover County and the city of Wilmington to establish the Cape Fear region as a competitive cultural and business destination in the Southeast.

Wilmington is already known as a region with a deep history and tight-knit sense of community. The creation of a state-of-the-art museum and library will bring life to an underutilized block of downtown land and provide a much-needed investment into the arts and culture institutions of our area. The project will also serve as an essential tool for economic development and job creation.

The fate of Project Grace has been a topic of discussion in the community for years, and currently its outcome is uncertain. The benefits associated with this project are immense; aside from advancing our library and museum facilities into the modern age, Project Grace will help serve as a catlalyst for downtown redevelopment to help provide a one-stop shop in downtown Wilmington for living, learning, dining, shopping, and more. As such, I believe the completion of this project is an essential step in the ascendancy of downtown Wilmington.

The pending approval and completion of Project Grace is the new energy downtown needs. The project will create a space that elevates downtown for all citizens, and it will allow Wilmington to forge ahead as a cultural hub in this region. Redeveloping county-owned land is a wise use of existing assets. The development team has value engineered efficiencies and reduced costs in excess of $4.58 million that will make Project Grace a more affordable and strategic project for county taxpayers, while maintaining top-tier design, quality, and functionality.

Over the years, Wilmington has seen substantial growth in the residential, commercial, and entertainment sectors. We must continue to grow by providing additional housing and amenities for the influx of valuable employees who join the region each year. And further, we must provide state-of-the-art resources to capture the hearts and minds of residents of all ages. With Project Grace, our history can be honored, preserved, and scrutinized with a brand-new Cape Fear Museum; and our educational capacity can flourish into the digital age with a new flagship downtown library.

I value the importance of having an experienced development team, with local roots, leading this project, as they too have a vested interest in the future of our downtown. The development team, the architecture and construction teams, as well as county staff and local leaders have my full confidence in their ability to successfully deliver this project.

In its completed form, Project Grace will reflect who we are as a community. This space will launch us forward in the right direction by creating a gathering space we can all take pride in. I believe this new development is imperative for the growth of downtown Wilmington and the region.

Given the overwhelming support from the community and the NHC Board of Commissioners, it is my hope that the Local Government Commission will support this essential project and put it on the September 12th agenda.

Wilmington resident Spence Broadhurst was the mayor of Wilmington from 2003 to 2006.

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