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Real Estate - Commercial

Change Of Plans: Developer Releases Latest CenterPoint Rendering

By Cece Nunn, posted Mar 6, 2020
The latest rendering of CenterPoint shows a hotel placed in the far left corner rather than the far right, where retail buildings are now located on Military Cutoff Road. (Courtesy of Swain & Associates)
CenterPoint has been the center of attention in recent weeks for changes anticipated in the proposed, large-scale mixed-use development.

In 2017, Swain & Associates developers announced plans for CenterPoint, a major mixed-use development on Eastwood and Military Cutoff roads in Wilmington that would include a hotel, an office building with a parking deck, apartments with a parking deck, restaurants and stores on about 23 acres.

At the time, the cost was estimated to be a $250 million project. That estimate is likely to rise because of a build-up in the cost of construction in the past few years. 

But that's not all that has changed. Wilmington-based Swain & Associates wants to add 20 rooms to the hotel at CenterPoint for a total of 220, and 70 units, for a total of 370, to an apartment complex in the development. 

The hotel change also includes moving the structure, whose brand has not been released, from the Military Cutoff side to the Eastwood side of the development.

The move, said Jason Swain of Swain & Associates, came about because of the N.C. Department of Transportation's needs regarding Drysdale Drive, the existing road that will be extended from Landfall Center to Military Cutoff and then through the CenterPoint site to Eastwood in upcoming road work. That change affected the hotel's parking at its previous location in the plan.

"We commissioned a parking study from a group that does these for projects all over the country. They said, 'Look, with the loss of this parking, you're going to have problems with the hotel. You're not gonna have enough convenient parking to make it viable. So when that happened, we decided we had to look on-site for another location for the hotel."

The addition of a fifth story to the apartment complex also resulted from additional market research, Swain explained Thursday.

"When we started this project four years ago, we planned as best we could, but we've realized that there are a lot of people who have done this all over the country and we've flown all over the country learning a lot from people who do these kinds of projects," Swain said. " In talking with the people who do multifamily [apartment communities], they told us while we've got 300 units that were permitted in 2018, they've said you need another 70 units to make the project viable."

Upon hearing the plans for a higher apartment complex and higher office building on the property, some nearby residents took issue with the proposal's growth. They mentioned them at a meeting Wednesday of the Wilmington Planning Commission.

To address some of those concerns, Swain said, the developers agreed to roll back their additional request for the height of what would be a medical user office building.

The planning panel, which did not vote on the height requirement because that will be up to the Wilmington City Council to address at a later meeting, did OK the higher density for the hotel and residential, lower retail and restaurant space and the location changes for the hotel and some retail in a 3 to 2 vote Wednesday night. That conditional district modification request will also be up for a vote by the city council.

Swain said Thursday "I made a commitment last night that -- even though the community told us they wanted large-scale medical here, and we were trying to accommodate that -- because the neighbors were concerned about the height of these to be in 75 feet, that we would roll back that request and only do what's allowed by right on these two buildings," Swain said, referring to medical office and its parking deck.

Another change Swain talked about Wednesday and Thursday was a building that would have been set aside for a grocery store, but with the Earth Fare closing at Sir Tyler Drive and Military Cutoff, leaving a large amount of grocery space, that CenterPoint grocery building has been taken out of the plan.

The city council in 2018 approved a rezoning for the Property from residential-only to an urban mixed-use designation and approved a special use permit to allow the hotel to be 75 feet or five stories and a 68-foot tall apartment complex.

The general plan is to start construction on CenterPoint at or around the same time construction starts on the Drysdale Drive extension, which would run through the development.

City planner Brian Chambers said the Drysdale project is currently in a right-of-way acquisition phase with the DOT and should be let for construction in the next 18 to 24 months, but he did not have a definitive timeline on Wednesday night.

That project to extend Drysdale Drive is going forward with or without the changes to CenterPoint, Chambers said.
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