Real Estate - Commercial

Mixed-use Developer Seeks Brownfields Agreement

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Mar 3, 2020
Developers of a potential $75 million mixed-use project on the riverfront in downtown Wilmington are seeking a brownfields agreement, according to state documents.

The applicant, Wilmington Waterfront Property Owner LLC, has been determined eligible to enter the brownfield agreement process, according to North Carolina Brownfields Program documents. The program is administered by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Waste Management.

The limited liability company is an entity of Kettler, a Virginia-based firm that specializes in mixed-use developments. The firm is planning apartments, retail space and a parking garage on nearly 3 acres that make up two parcels at 19 and 41 Harnett streets.

The brownfield agreement involves the properties, which contain a parking lot at 19 Harnett St. and vacant land on the other parcel.

Brownfields Program documents list the current tax value of the site at $866,400. The estimated capital investment listed in the state documents for the redevelopment project is $75 million.

On those sites, plans for a mixed-use development have been submitted to the city of Wilmington. Kettler bought the properties last summer for $5.5 million total, according to county property tax records.

Site plans with the city, which were updated in December, show a two-building development with 288 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. The buildings are slated to have a combined square footage of more than 357,000 square feet.

The updated site plans show smaller retail space, nearly 5,400 square feet, than plans submitted to the city in September, which showed nearly 19,000 square feet.

Engineers, however, are still working on plans, said Mike Broyhill, an engineering technician with Wilmington-headquartered CSD Engineering, noting that it is still early on in the process and “nothing has really been nailed down yet.”

The brownfields program is a state effort to encourage redevelopment of underused, contaminated property, and aims to help developers, landowners and lenders by providing guidelines for safe development of brownfields sites to protect public health. 

The state's brownfields program has processed more than 500 brownfields agreements since the program began in 1997, according to the state.

The landowner's process to reach a brownfields agreement will involve a detailed review of available environmental and other relevant data “to determine what is currently known about contamination at the Brownfields Property, and what, if any, information gaps may exist that may require additional assessment,” states a letter of eligibility issued to the Wilmington Waterfront Property Owner LLC last month.

The property was previously used as the former Almont Shipping terminal from 1870 until 2005, according to brownfields program documents. The property has been used for manufacturing, fertilizer storage and petroleum storage and there are suspected contaminants on the site.

State documents say the development will create, with the residential portion, five to six full-time jobs, plus the jobs created by retail tenants.

“The finished product will create public green space along the waterfront and provide an enhanced Riverwalk connection that will help create activity and energy in the surrounding neighborhood,” brownfields program documents state. “A public/private garage is proposed for use by the residents, retail tenants, and public park patrons."

The site planned for development is next to the city's North Waterfront Park development now under construction.
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