Crews Demolish Downtown Wilmington Building For First Phase Of Project Grace

By Cece Nunn, posted Dec 1, 2023
Crews are taking down the Borst Building in downtown Wilmington as part the site's preparation for a new county library and museum. (Photo by Cece Nunn)
Crews have started demolishing a building in downtown Wilmington where a new New Hanover County Public Library main branch and Cape Fear Museum will be built. 

The preparation for demolishing the Borst Building at Grace and Second streets began around six weeks ago, said Mike Brown, vice president of Cape Fear Development, on Friday. CFD has partnered with New Hanover County on the $56 million construction of the new public facilities.

The Borst Building was built in 1926 as Wilmington’s first Chrysler dealership, according to the Historic Wilmington Foundation, which opposed its demolition. The HWF said the Borst Building was classified as a contributing resource in the Wilmington National Register Historic District.

But an analysis by the county and a second analysis by CFD concluded that building on the north side of the project’s county-owned, 3-acre site made the most sense, county and CFD officials have said. 

In addition to the library and museum, Project Grace is set to include at least $30 million of private investment built on the south side of the property, which could consist of a mix of residential and commercial space. Cape Fear Development will pay at least $3.5 million for the south parcel as part of a development agreement with the county.

“We’re really excited to see the project coming forward. It’s going to be a great, transformational project for the city of Wilmington and New Hanover County, and it’s an honor to be involved,” Brown said.

He said the Borst Building’s demolition is expected to take six weeks, with the next step requiring the demolition of the stair tower on the adjacent library parking deck. The existing library at 201 Chestnut St. on the south side of the Project Grace site is also set to be demolished, but not until after the new library is built and furnished.

Site work for the 95,000-square-foot public facilities is expected to take about seven weeks, and a tower crane for lifting heavy construction materials (such as steel) will likely rise on the site in January, Brown said. Monteith Construction is the general contractor.

Once the site work is complete, construction of the library and museum is estimated to take about 18 months, Brown said, with completion anticipated in 2025.
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