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Real Estate - Commercial

Developer Proposes Scaled-down Plans At Midtown Wilmington Intersection

By Emma Dill, posted Mar 29, 2024
A site plan concept shows the townhomes and mixed-use building proposed near the intersection of Oleander Drive and Independence Boulevard. (Image courtesy of Becker Morgan Group)
After pulling the plug last year on a townhome and apartment project near the intersection of Oleander Drive and Independence Boulevard, a local developer is trying again with a scaled-down proposal.

Dave Spetrino is proposing a project that includes 16 townhomes, 24 condos and commercial space on just over two acres at 1320 Independence Blvd., a wooded parcel at the northwest corner of Oleander Drive and Independence Boulevard. Spetrino hosted a community meeting this week on the new plans and the needed rezoning.

Last June, Spetrino announced he would “move on” from a proposal that pitched more than 170 townhomes and apartments for 1320 Independence Blvd. and another 20-acre strip along Independence Boulevard. 

The project faced pushback from neighbors who raised concerns about its scale, its impact on traffic and how it would fit in with the surrounding single-family neighborhoods. Ultimately, Spetrino cited the “friction” sparked by the proposal as one reason he decided to step away. 

“Our original efforts were focused on the entire 20-acre tract (more than a mile of land along Independence),” Spetrino wrote in an email to the Business Journal this week. “This plan focuses solely on the 2.5 acres at the corner.” 

Midtown Development Partners LLC, a limited liability company registered to Spetrino, purchased the tract at 1320 Independence Blvd. for $410,000 in June 2023, property records show.

The new, scaled-down plan includes 16 three-story townhomes that will face onto Independence Boulevard. Near the corner of the intersection, plans show a four-story, mixed-use building with 1,800 to 2,000 square feet of first-floor commercial space and 24 condos on the floors above.

The project would use Independence Boulevard as the development’s main access point and an alley that borders the property as a second point of access and a buffer to the neighboring single-family homes.

The project will help create a “transitional” or “missing middle” housing type that will help provide housing diversity and homes “that target more attainable price points and lifestyles,” according to Spetrino. He’s also worked to align his plans with the city’s standards, as outlined in its land use plan.

“With the remaining, developable land within the city limits, part of my obligation to our community is to follow the guidelines outlined as to how best to meet a market demand while complying with the long-term needs of the city as a whole,” he wrote.

Spetrino will ask Wilmington leaders to rezone the site at 1320 Independence Blvd. from its current low-density residential zoning to an office and institutional commercial district mixed-use, according to a community meeting notice.

Spetrino said he’s still working to fine-tune some aspects of the project, including its architecture and deciding which trees will be preserved on the site. He aims to submit a rezoning application to city leaders in April. The application will then go before the Wilmington Planning Commission and Wilmington City Council for consideration.
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