In the 300 block of Eighth Street in downtown Wilmington, a grouping of nine homes is under construction, replacing a derelict house that used to sit on a little less than an acre.
The walls are up for three of the three-bedroom, two-bathroom single-family houses in the cluster, dubbed Wetherill Square.
Five of the two-story, 1,550-square-foot homes will face Eighth Street and the MLK Center, while the other four are facing Wilson Street.
The project, indirectly, might not have come about if it weren't for the site's place in an Opportunity Zone, said Kevin Henry, broker with Wilmington-based Carolina Commercial Investment Properties.
Some investors from Raleigh purchased the property, which had an abandoned single-family home and trash sitting on it at the time, to create rental housing, for which they would have received tax benefits that go along with Opportunity Zones.
But those plans didn't come to fruition, Henry said. So he put the site before homebuilder Bruce Locklear, whose company is RCI and who built homes in Virginia before moving to Wilmington in 2010.
"Kevin brought the deal to me and it was interesting," Locklear said, adding that while it was an opportunity to make money, it also had the added benefit of being able to "pick up the neighborhood here."
Other renovations are going on in the vicinity, Henry said.
"The block is really seeing a good bit of activity," he said.
The homes Locklear is building are for sale so he doesn't get the tax benefits. But the price of the homes, around $257,000, is in a much sought-after range by buyers looking at the Wilmington area.
"I've got some contracts already," said Locklear (pictured above at right with Henry at left at Wetherill Square)
He said he'd probably be finished with all nine houses by mid-spring or early summer next year.