In a change that would put nearly $2.5 million in downtown property up for sale, The Salvation Army of Wilmington plans to relocate and expand some of its services in the near future.
Officials within the nonprofit organization have looked at nearly 30 potential sites in the community, said Maj. Richard Watts, commander of The Salvation Army of Wilmington, to find a location for what would likely be a $6 to $10 million project. Those sites include property off North 30th Street, he said, near a planned extension of Scientific Park Drive.
The Wilmington City Council recently delayed a decision on whether to ask state officials to speed up funding for that extension, sought for the purpose of promoting economic development, including what a letter from city manager Sterling Cheatham to officials described as “an existing business opportunity to expand and develop in the area. The capital investment from this expansion and relocation could range between $27 million to $36 million and create 70-90 new jobs.”
City officials said the name of the business the letter refers to is a secret for now, and Watts said those numbers don’t correspond to The Salvation Army’s plans. But the extension would make access much easier to a nearby property that The Salvation Army has looked at as a potential site, Watts said. The City Council voted Aug. 18 to give the city staff more time to work out an issue with the proposed route needed for the Scientific Park Drive work.
Relocating and expanding services, including The Salvation Army of Wilmington’s shelter, currently at 802 N. Second St., and its worship and education facility, now located at 223 S. Third St., would result in the addition of about five to 10 employees, Watts estimated. The North Second Street property, which in addition to the shelter includes the organization's administrative offices and one of its thrift stores, was appraised at $1.85 million, and the South Third Street site at $630,000, he said.
The sale of the existing properties, along with a public appeal, would fund the relocation and expansion, a move that has been recommended in a mission planning study, Watts said.
"We're probably talking about the total complex being somewhere in the area of 50,000 to 60,000 square feet," he said. "A lot of it's going to depend on how much money we raise."