New Hanover To Weigh $3.3 Million In Incentives For Industrial Park Expansion

By Emma Dill, posted Apr 11, 2024
A site plan shows the 10 new buildings proposed for the Wilmington Trade Center. The buildings are expected to add millions to the county’s property tax base and generate more than 2,000 jobs. (Image courtesy of New Hanover County)
New Hanover County leaders are slated to consider more than $3.3 million in incentives next week for the addition of 10 buildings at an industrial park along U.S. 421.

The new buildings proposed for the Wilmington Trade Center could add between $300 million to $400 million to the county’s property tax base and generate more than 2,000 new jobs for the area, according to the agenda for the Monday meeting of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners.   

The board will hold a public hearing and vote on the more than $3.3 million in economic development incentives for the buildings and accompanying infrastructure upgrades. The board’s agenda details the proposed incentive agreement between New Hanover County and industrial park owner WTC Land Company, LLC.

Once finished, the industrial park’s 13 buildings would include more than 3.2 million square feet with individual buildings ranging from 84,000 to 1 million square feet, according to the agenda. Two buildings with a combined 315,000 square feet are already complete within the park and another with just over 100,000 square feet is nearing the start of its construction.

A joint venture, the principals of WTC Land Company, LLC include Singerman Real Estate, Edgewater Ventures and Seamist Trade Center. Chris Norvell with Edgewater Ventures and Ken Dull with Seamist Trade Center have served as the county’s primary contacts on the project, the board’s agenda states.

In October, Edgewater Ventures purchased 187 acres next to the existing buildings for $7.65 million with plans to continue to grow as a master-planned industrial park.

The park’s new structures would be shell buildings “in anticipation of being able to lease or sell the building space soon after completion and then to replicate that process for the remainder of the park,” the agenda states. Tenants or buyers would then invest in improvements to the building and bring jobs and equipment to the facility.

Construction of the 10 proposed buildings would require the installation of an estimated $8.5 million in infrastructure, including roads, utilities and stormwater. “By installing this infrastructure, the entire remaining acreage of the 187-ace park becomes available for development and building construction,” the agenda states.

County staff have proposed structuring the more than $3.3 million in incentives into three equal payment buckets. 

One-third of the total incentive funding – about $1.13 million – would be invested in the site’s infrastructure, according to agenda documents. 

During the two-and-a-half-year period between July 1, 2024, and December 31, 2026, New Hanover County would pay $1 in incentive funds for every $7.85 spent by WTC Land Company, LLC on infrastructure costs.

Another third of the funding – about $1.13 million – would be paid based on the company’s direct investment of $82 million, which is the estimated increase to the tax base associated with the construction of the industrial park’s next four buildings. The money would be payable during the five years from July 1, 2026 to June 30, 2031.

The last $1.13 million in county funding would be based on the addition of 1,500 new full-time equivalent employees. The money could be paid out in the five years between July 1, 2026 and June 30, 2031.

Per the agreement, no more than one-third of the total incentive amount could be paid out to the company in a single year and the infrastructure and direct investments would be paid to the company on a “pro-rata basis.”

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners will consider the economic incentives on Monday at 9 a.m. The board's meeting will be held in the New Hanover County Historic Courthouse at 24 N. Third St.
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