Real Estate - Commercial

Major Projects Move Forward

By Cece Nunn, posted Jun 5, 2020
A rendering shows what the potential new New Hanover County Government Complex could look like. (Rendering c/o New Hanover County)
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, work has continued on many major projects in the Wilmington area, from construction to planning phases. The following are updates on some of the largest developments:

Government Center Redevelopment

Address: 230 Government Center Drive
Details: The potential New Hanover County Government Center redevelopment project would include a new facility for county offices, as well as commercial and residential uses, with affordable housing and green space.
Update: The county Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the development agreement June 15. Under the proposed development agreement, the county would still own the land where a new government center would be built and then sell the other half of the property (about 7.5 acres of the total 15 acres) to the developer, Cape Fear FD Stonewater LLC, for about $5 million to build a mixeduse residential and commercial development.
“The developer would finance, construct, and furnish the county’s Government Center and Emergency Operations/911 Center, and then the county would pay the developer approximately $4.5 million annually over 20 years,” according to a county news release. “At the end of those 20 years, the county would own the building without any debt. In addition, the developer would invest at least $70 million in the phased, private development, which will generate annual county and city tax revenue of more than $730,000 initially with continued growth over time.”

Read more details in a preview story on the agenda item.

Independence Mall Transformation

Address: 3500 Oleander Drive
Details: A major redevelopment of the 1970s mall by owner Brookfield Properties has been in the works for the past few years, with changes expected outside and in the more than 1 million-square-foot center.
Ulta Beauty and a Dick’s Sporting Goods Superstore are coming to the mall as part of the transformation. New tenants also include a Lidl grocery store; Blaze Pizza, a pizza eatery with a location in Renaissance Market shopping center; First Watch, a Florida-based restaurant chain that is also coming to Mayfaire Town Center; Jersey Mike’s Subs, a New Jersey-based sandwich shop; and Five Below, a Philadelphia-based value retailer geared toward teens.
Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar, a restaurant co-owned by NFL quarterback Drew Bree, is also set to open in an 8,800-square-foot building over an existing parking lot near the mall at 3710 Oleander Drive.
Update: Helen Lewis, general manager of Independence Mall, said interior renovations are expected to be finished around mid-Setpember, while the new exterior-facing portion and outside buildings, including restaurant space, could be done by the holiday.

River Place

Address: On Grace and Water streets in downtown Wilmington.
Details: A 13-story project estimated at more than $80 million, River Place is a public-private partnership between East West Partners and the city of Wilmington that replaced the defunct Water Street parking deck.
Update: The apartment component of the project, which includes condos and retail space, is expected to be finished in June. The apartment section is called The Overlook at River Place. Units range in size from 553 to 1,284 square feet, and rents start at $1,161 a month.

Autumn Hall Phase Two

Address: 1200 block of Eastwood Road
Details: The next phase of Autumn Hall, a master planned community on Eastwood Road, is expected to include high-end retail, a 150-room hotel, conference center, restaurants, offices and apartments.
Update: The project is progressing, including plans for a bank and offices. The developers have not yet announced which bank is expected to occupy space in a two-story, 27,500-square-foot building at 1202 Eastwood Road. Developers of the project include Cape Fear Commercial and Trask Land Co. Mike Brown with Cape Fear Commercial is running point on the project for the team, said Brian Eckel of Cape Fear Commercial.
Thomas Construction Group is working on the first buildings at the intersection of Autumn Hall Drive and Eastwood Road. The buildings are a total of 45,382 square feet of mixed-use space that are 77% preleased and will deliver Q4 2020, Eckel said earlier this year.

North Waterfront Park

Address: 10 Cowan St.
Details: The nearly $30 million park on 6.6 acres along the northern Cape Fear River riverfront in downtown Wilmington is expected to include a large concert venue and festival space, a playground, a splash pad, trails and more amenities.
Update: Dylan Lee, city of Wilmington spokesman, said, “Construction is on track, and the park is still slated to open in spring of 2021.”

Northern Gateway Project

Address: 1020, 908 and 922 N. Front St. and 901 N. Third St.
Details: East West Partners proposed a development that could bring residential units, retail space, a hotel, a visitors center and parking to several city-owned properties.
Update: The $90 million project is on hold for now because of the coronavirus.


Address: 1531 Eastwood Road
Details: In 2017, Swain & Associates developers announced plans for CenterPoint, a major mixed-use development on Eastwood and Military Cutoff roads in Wilmington that would include a hotel, an office building with a parking deck, apartments with a parking deck, restaurants and stores on about 23 acres. At the time, the cost was estimated to be $250 million.
Update: Swain & Associates is awaiting a Wilmington City Council decision on a change to the plans that would add 20 rooms to the hotel at CenterPoint for a total of 220, and 70 units, for a total of 370, to an apartment complex in the development. It has not yet been scheduled for consideration by the council.
“I don’t think we’re in any rush,” said Jason Swain, developer with Swain & Associates, at the end of May. “We’re waiting patiently for the next step.”
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