Real Estate - Commercial

Summerwalk's Second Phase Moves Forward With Rezoning

By Emma Dill, posted Feb 21, 2024
A rendering shows an overhead view of Summerwalk's second phase. (Rendering courtesy of Summerwalk Commercial LLC)
A proposal to build more than 175 apartments along with retail, restaurant and office space is moving forward on Oleander Drive after developers secured a needed rezoning this week.

On Tuesday, the Wilmington City Council unanimously approved rezoning nearly six acres near the intersection of Greenville Loop Road and Oleander Drive for the second phase of the Summerwalk development. Completed in 2019, the project’s first phase includes more than 100 townhomes and 19 single-family homes.

The site at 6120 Oleander Drive was rezoned in 2010 and again in 2015, but work on the second phase never made it off the ground. Tuesday's rezoning changes the area’s designation from a community business district to an office and institutional zoning.

The make-up of that second phase has evolved over the years, shifting from 62,400 square feet of office and commercial space to 178 multifamily units and 20,700 square feet of office and commercial.

“The reality is today we don’t need large office spaces. Following the pandemic, remote work environments appear to be here to stay,” said Sam Franck, an attorney with Ward and Smith who has represented developer Summerwalk Commercial LLC during the rezoning process.

“Due to the changes of the community, the highest and best use of this site is no longer strictly commercial,” Franck added. “This reality is not unique to Wilmington. Cities throughout the country are working to find ways to incorporate more housing within more urban environments and to reduce the excess of office space.”

The current proposal consists of three 4-story buildings. The first building, which borders Greenville Loop Road, will include ground-floor parking with three floors of apartments. A second building, which fronts onto Oleander Drive, will include parking and commercial space on the ground floor with apartments above. The third features two floors of commercial space and two floors of apartments.

The latest phase will include 178 apartments along with 8,000 square feet of office space, 6,500 square feet of retail and around  6,500 square feet of restaurant space, Franck said. The developer also committed to including 20 workforce housing units for 15 years – 10 for those earning 60% of the area median income and 10 for those earning 80% of the area median income.

Access to Summerwalk will be available via the existing Richard Bradley Drive and a proposed driveway that will link the second phase with Oleander Drive. 

“Summerwalk has always been contemplated as one cohesive development with shared areas and open space,” Franck said.

During Tuesday’s Wilmington City Council meeting, council members and neighbors raised concerns about the area’s existing traffic congestion. City staff noted the N.C. Department of Transportation has plans to make improvements at the Oleander Drive and Greenville Loop Road intersection. 

The Department of Transportation expects to begin property acquisition for the intersection improvements in 2027 and construction in 2029, according to Brian Chambers, assistant director of Wilmington’s planning and development department. As a condition of the rezoning, all traffic improvements will have to be complete before developers can secure a certificate of occupancy for the development’s second phase, Franck said.
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