City Moves Into Former Thermo Fisher Building As Officials Weigh New Name

By Emma Dill, posted Nov 10, 2023
The city of Wilmington is in the process of relocating its offices into the former Thermo Fisher Scientific Building. (File photo)

Nearly four months after the city of Wilmington closed on the former Thermo Fisher Building, many city departments have already moved in.

In July, the city purchased the 12-story downtown office building for $68 million to consolidate offices into a single campus. Now, city leaders are working on the logistics of moving more departments in and making renovations, along with marketing and leasing unused space to outside companies.

As of this week, at least 13 city departments are operating out of the building at 929 N. Front Street, according to Wilmington Communications Director Jerod Patterson.

The departments that have already moved in were able to adapt the building’s existing spaces, “resulting in smooth operational transitions and minimal expense to the city,” Patterson wrote in an email to the Business Journal. Those departments include: 

  • City manager’s office
  • City attorney’s office
  • City clerk’s office
  • Office of the mayor and council
  • Engineering Department
  • Finance Department
  • Parks and Recreation Department
  • Human Resources Department
  • Corporate Affairs Department
  • Budget Department
  • Economic Development
  • Equity and Inclusion
  • Parking and Downtown Services
  • Office of the Fire Marshal
  • IT and facilities support staff

The city is developing architectural plans that will be used to “activate” the building’s first floor for departments and services that are more public-facing. The city’s planning and development services, housing and neighborhood services, along with frontline customer services like billing and collections, will likely be housed in this space. According to Patterson, the city expects to move into these spaces in the latter half of 2024.

City staff are also developing plans to adapt existing spaces on the building’s third floor for various “public safety and traffic engineering functions,” Patterson wrote. The third floor will also house a secure records storage location, centralizing city documents currently spread across several vaults.

The adjacent 1,022-space parking deck is open and operational for special events and for those using the building. City leaders expect the parking deck to be available for 24/7 public parking by early 2024.

Wilmington-based real estate firm Cape Fear Commercial is actively working with city leaders to lease out extra space in the building, which has seen “significant interest,” according to Patterson.

In part to aid those marketing efforts, the Wilmington City Council considered names for the building at its regular meeting Wednesday. While residents may come to know the building simply as city hall, some council members said they want to give it a separate identity for businesses that opt to lease there.

“I can imagine if you’re trying to market those other floors and lease them, I think having a secondary name is a positive,” council member Neil Anderson said Wednesday.

The city’s naming committee brought three potential names to the council: City Center, City Plaza and Skyline. The name would be included on a monument sign beside the building.

While some council members supported keeping “city” in the building’s name to memorialize the city’s ownership, other members pushed for Skyline. With council member Kevin Spears absent, the names evenly divided the council, with three members supporting City Plaza and three supporting Skyline.

The council pushed the discussion of the building’s name to its next regular meeting, which is scheduled for Nov. 28.

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