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Real Estate - Commercial

City Approval Allows Solar Company's HQ Plans To Shine

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Feb 6, 2019
The rendering shows Cape Fear Solar Systems' planned headquarters and solar complex at 901 S. Front St. in downtown Wilmington. (Rendering courtesy of Cape Fear Solar Systems)
Wilmington-based Cape Fear Solar Systems LLC is moving forward with finalizing plans for its new headquarters building and solar complex for an area of vacant property in the city's South Front Street gateway.

Wilmington City Council on Tuesday approved a special use permit for the Cape Fear Solar Systems project to build on 2.6 acres of vacant property at 901 S. Front St.

With the city's approval, the company will work with its architect to complete building plans, expected to take place in the next three to four months, Cassandra Barba, Cape Fear Solar Systems’ sales and marketing manager, said in an email Wednesday.

“We’re thrilled to announce the approval to build our new headquarters ... We are so grateful to have such supportive staff, customers and partners," Barba said.

A timeline for the project, slated to be constructed in three phases, has yet to be developed, she said.

The company's 75-foot, five-story office building and a nearly 15,000-square-foot warehouse building are planned to be constructed within the first phase of the project, she said.
 
The office building is planned to have views of the Cape Fear River from a rooftop terrace, she said. The warehouse building will be used to house solar panels, trailers and equipment, and will have a unique feature on the roof: solar panels in the shape of the American flag.

The second phase of the project includes a two-story net-zero demonstration home and solar covered electric vehicle charging station. The last phase will feature several solar-powered multi-family structures, she said.

Cape Fear Solar Systems, a solar system design and installation company, currently has 20 full-time employees and two part-time employees, Barba said. When the new facility is at full capacity, the company projects employing about 65 people.

The solar provider services Southeastern North Carolina and surrounding areas, as well as the Raleigh area. Cape Fear Solar Systems' current facility is located at 901 Martin St., which is accessible by appointment only, she said.

The project, "represents a major milestone for Wilmington, as environmental sustainability is at the core of Wilmington’s future. Cape Fear Solar Systems will follow the city’s comprehensive plan to help nurture our community," Barba said.

"Natural resources are a major factor in attracting residents and visitors to the area. Cape Fear Solar Systems solar campus will feature interaction with the natural habitat, from parks, water and open spaces, to locally grown agriculture, to protecting water quality—all critical for Wilmington’s future success," she added.

The company was founded in Wilmington in 2007 by John Donoghue, owner and president of Cape Fear Solar Systems. Officials said that the company has designed and installed nearly 700 solar systems within a 75-mile radius of Wilmington and the Raleigh area.

"The new headquarters will allow us to expand and serve more customers," Barba said. 

"The demand for solar, battery backup systems and electric vehicle charging stations is significantly growing in Southeastern North Carolina. As electricity rates continue to rise, more consumers are choosing solar solutions," she added. "Our customers are saving thousands each year on electricity cost while helping to improve our environment. Since Hurricane Florence made its way through our area, we have also seen a growing need for solar with battery backup systems."
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