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Infrastructure In Plans For New County-owned Business Park To Lure Development

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Jun 17, 2021
Preliminary site plans for the Blue Clay Road Business Park show several buildings that could be developed at the site. (Photo courtesy of WBD)
Proposals are being requested for New Hanover County's plan to help jumpstart a new business park at its 120-acres off Blue Clay Road.

The county has issued a request for qualifications to develop the park's infrastructure including road access and water and sewer system and anticipates the project will be completed in the summer of 2022, New Hanover County Chief Strategy Officer Jennifer Rigby said in an email Thursday.

The deadline for applications for the project is June 24, officials said.

The county has carved out $3.6 million from the county's American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds for the water and sewer lines to increase economic development opportunities in the area. 

Specific funding for the Blue Clay Road project is only using ARP funds and is not a line item in the county's recently approved 2021-22 fiscal year budget, county officials said.

"Through the use of American Rescue Plan funds we will design and construct water and sewer that extends into the site as well as the needed access roads and turn lane," Rigby said.

The county is working with economic development organization Wilmington Business Development (WBD) on the master plan for the 120-acres property off Blue Clay Road, the future site of what's being called the Blue Clay Road Business Park.

WBD serves business recruitment and retention efforts in Wilmington, New Hanover and Pender counties.

"We (WBD) certainly are hopeful that all major infrastructure will be in place for our clients/prospects by late Summer of 2022. It is very difficult to market dirt without infrastructure. This will move Blue Clay Business Park towards a more 'shovel ready' status," WBD CEO Scott Satterfield said in an email Thursday.

"In the competitive landscape that we operate in, which is a process of elimination of risk, we are in a much more advantageous position when all essential utilities are verifiable and operational on-site," Satterfield added.

The county's Blue Clay Road property is close to Interstate 40 and the Wilmington International Airport.

“Preliminary layouts highlight a 120-acre site (85 of which is buildable) where upwards of 875,000 square feet can be accommodated. Another nice differentiator is the ability for rail to serve the location," Satterfield has previously said.

The property is zoned for industrial and business uses and the master plan outlines the need to extend water and sewer infrastructure into the site as well as access roads into the site, Rigby said. 

"Water and sewer infrastructure are critical to ensure we are able to attract and retain businesses to New Hanover County," she said, "and providing this infrastructure is a great step towards ensuring adequate space for our businesses to grow and thrive."

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