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Real Estate - Commercial

ILM Hotel Developers Seek 65-foot Height Variance

By Johanna F. Still, posted May 17, 2022
The Crowne Plaza Wilmington International Airport, a six-story hotel planned next to the ILM terminal, would requires 65-foot height variance from New Hanover County. (Photo courtesy of ILM Airport Hotel Partners)

Developers behind plans to bring a luxury six-story hotel to the Wilmington International Airport Business Park are requesting a height variance from New Hanover County.

The proposed Crowne Plaza involves a 150-room hotel, including 5,000 square feet of event space, a restaurant and rooftop bar. 

ILM Airport Hotel Partners LLC is proposing to build a 95- or 100-foot structure and is requesting a 65-foot variance from New Hanover County. Developers plan to spend $40 million to build the hotel in a two-year timeframe, officials announced in April

The county’s airport commerce district currently has a 35-foot height cap. In an April 28 application, the developers say if the variance isn’t granted, the hotel cannot be constructed and therefore, the Wilmington International Airport (ILM) would miss out on its longstanding goals. 

Construction and the eventual opening of the new hotel would create 125 jobs, the developers estimate. It is also projected to generate new business opportunities and cater to travelers using ILM.

Plans include a conference and meeting space along with other amenities that “will serve as a catalyst for future growth and development in the ILM Business Park.” The application states “this is a very unique variance request.”

“It is not economically feasible to construct a hotel of the intended design and quality on the subject property under the very limited, 35-foot height standard,” the application states. 

On a strict development timeline, the applicant wrote all approvals need to be completed so construction can begin by September under the current sublease. “The interest rate for the development loan will not be set until all approvals are in place, and it is crucial to get this rate locked in as soon as possible,” the application states. “In this rate environment, a few months delay could threaten the feasibility of the project if the interest rates go up as predicted.” 

The project must go through review by the Federal Aviation Administration. On May 24, the New Hanover County Zoning Board of Adjustment will review the application. County staff members have yet to make an official recommendation on the proposal, according to a county spokesperson. ​

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