City officials are set next week to vote on putting the old Wave Transit facility on Castle Street up for sale. And while past plans have fallen through, including an idea to turn the property into a culture arts center, the possibility remains for a transformative project.
The city of Wilmington bought the 1.5-acre property at 1110 Castle St., currently zoned Urban Mixed Use (UMX), in 1974. It was used as a bus maintenance facility from then until June 2015, when Wave Transit vacated the property. The site covers about half a city block with frontage on Castle, 10th and 11th streets, and includes two buildings and a metal fuel island canopy, according to city agenda documents.
"It is very strategically located and could certainly be a catalyst for additional mixed-use development along Castle Street," said Ed Wolverton, president and CEO of Wilmington Downtown Inc.
Castle Street has continued to evolve and progress over the past few years, Wolverton said.
"There's been a solid core of antique and art related shops kind of in the 500 and 600 blocks. Then, about two years ago, we had mixed use come in with the Urban Oasis apartments, 11 units and some ground floor commercial," he said.
Additionally, Kids Making It, a 501(c)3 organization that teaches woodworking, life and entrepreneurial skills to at-risk children ages 8 and older and young adults, bought a nearly 5,000-square-foot building at 617 Castle St. in 2014. The organization moved there later that year from its Water Street location, and is in the process of building a two-story addition at the property
John Willse, owner of Wilmington Wine at 605 Castle St., said Castle Street would be boosted by a redevelopment of the property, whether its a residential or commercial project or a mixture of both.
I think that Castle Street is a viable community; we're an up-and-coming community," Willse said. "We have a great amount of momentum going for us and we want to make sure that we're sustaining that momentum and capitalizing on that momentum and not squandering that momentum."
He added, "I think that the revitalization of that area would do much to promote not only that particular area but Castle Street as a whole."
A resolution that will allow the property to be sold is on the Wilmington City Council's consent agenda for its 6:30 p.m. Wednesday meeting
. The regular council meeting is being held on a Wednesday instead of Tuesday because of Election Day.