Site work has kicked off for Starway Village, a 278-unit apartment complex that promises to bring affordable housing to Carolina Beach Road.
The $74 million project broke ground around the end of December, said Ted Heilbron, a principal with developer Kelley Development. Crews are currently completing site work on the 15-acre site at 2346 Carolina Beach Road.
Heilbron said this week that the ongoing work is “pretty standard stuff,” which includes the demolition of the site’s existing buildings and moving dirt to accommodate the site plan. Heilbron said he expects the site work to take another eight to 10 weeks with construction to follow.
“The project timeline is anticipated to be 18 months,” Heilbron said, “so summer of 2025, we'll be welcoming families into those units.”
The site, which developers purchased for $4.25 million in December 2022, was formerly home to the Starway Flea Market and before that a drive-in movie theater.
The project has received funding from government leaders at the local and state levels. This week, the Wilmington City Council unanimously approved an ordinance appropriating $9 million in grant funding from the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency toward the project. That grant was approved by the state agency in 2022
, but formally appropriating the money was a necessary step, city officials said this week.
“This ordinance is the last step in the process and will allow Starway to begin drawing down the funding,” Rachel LaCoe, the city’s housing and neighborhood services director, told city council members.
The project also received more than $5 million in combined American Rescue Plan Act funds from the city of Wilmington and New Hanover County along with an additional $750,000 in gap financing approved by the city leaders last fall.
"Every dollar counts, and we're incredibly appreciative of the city's continued support for the project,” Heilbron said.
In 2022, the project cleared a major hurdle
by receiving a 4% Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) award and a tax-free bond allocation from the N.C. Housing Finance Agency. The project will also be financed with more than $35 million in tax-exempt bonds that were issued last summer through the Wilmington Housing Authority.
The final project will offer one-, two- and three-bedroom units at or below 60% area median income. That amounts to just under $800 for a one-bedroom unit and around $1,000 for a three-bedroom unit, LaCoe said.
A formal groundbreaking event for the project is scheduled for Feb. 1, according to Heilbron.