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As One Project Wraps Up On Wilmington's Riverfront, Another To Start Next Year

By Emma Dill, posted Mar 4, 2024
All major repairs have wrapped up on the Alton Lennon Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in downtown Wilmington. (Photo by Emma Dill)
On the riverfront in downtown Wilmington, one project is wrapping up while another could get under way early next year.

The Alton Lennon Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse reopened for business in the fall. The building, which is located at 2 Princess St., had been closed since 2018 when it was damaged by Hurricane Florence.

Although major repairs have wrapped up, minor closeout work is still being completed. But that ongoing work doesn’t affect the building’s day-to-day operations, according to Will Powell, a public affairs officer with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). 

The scope of the completed work includes repairs to the building’s envelope and mechanical and electrical systems along with the “restoration of historic finishes and features to preserve the historic fabric of the building,” Powell wrote in an email to the Business Journal.

Congress funded the project via the Disaster Relief Act of 2019, which provided the GSA with funding to address necessary repair and alteration projects resulting from Hurricane Florence.

In 2019, the GSA awarded contracts to “design the building repairs to return the building to service as quickly as possible,” according to Powell. That included South Carolina-based CEMS Engineering & Architecture Inc. and California-based AECOM Technical Services Inc.

In March 2021, the federal agency awarded a $31 million construction services contract for the project to Alabama-based contractor Brasfield & Gorrie LLC. 

Coinciding with some of the federal building repairs, were a handful of investments along Water Street and the riverfront funded by the city of Wilmington and the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority.

Completed in 2017, the first phase of improvements included the CFPUA-funded installation of new water lines and dry gravity sanitary sewer lines between Market and Princess Streets along with city-funded streetscaping and park improvements at the foot of Market Street, according to Lauren Edwards, a communications manager with the city of Wilmington.

The second phase of work, which wrapped up in 2022, included a CFPUA-funded project that installed new water lines and dry gravity sanitary sewer lines between Princess and Walnut streets. A city-funded project added streetscaping and new storm drainage infrastructure. 

These first two phases allowed for the installation of a new deep gravity sanitary line to "facilitate the future removal of the pump station at the busy pedestrian area of Market Street in conjunction with the Walnut Street Pump Station Improvements Project," according to Edwards.

A third phase includes more streetscape improvements and the renovation of a park in front of the federal building between Market and Princess Streets. That work is set to take place early next year, Edwards wrote in an email to the Business Journal. The remaining work is expected to cost the city about $3 million.

Last summer, city leaders approved buying 1.6 acres of riverfront property in the area for $1.2 million for a park. The land was formerly owned by the Coast Guard and used as a docking site for the Coast Guard Cutter Diligence.
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