Wilmington leaders have chosen a Chapel Hill firm to redevelop downtown’s Water Street parking deck, overriding the city manager’s recommendations for a local developer’s proposal.
The prominent city-owned property, with a view of the river in the heart of downtown, has been the subject of discussion and plans for years.
“This is probably one of the most iconic pieces of property and one of the most talked about pieces of property in the last 25 years in the city of Wilmington,” Mayor Bill Saffo said.
The city turned to the private sector to redevelop the site with a mixed-use building with public and private parking. The council chose East West Partners from three finalists.
Of the three finalists, East West Partners proposed the tallest building – a 172-ft.-tall development, though the height could change. The company proposes 554 parking spaces, 190 apartments and 31,661 sq. ft. of retail space.
Now that East West has the city council’s blessing, staff will negotiate an agreement to guide the redevelopment. Some details of the development are still undetermined and will be hashed out during negotiations.
The city manager’s office had recommended selecting a local firm, Cape Fear Development Partners of Wilmington. But the majority of council members favored the Chapel Hill firm.
Saffo said the city plans to retain the property but sell air rights to the developer. The city also would own the public parking. It is possible the developer could pay for private parking or the city would own the parking and rent it to the developer, Saffo said.
If negotiations fail with East West, the city council also selected a second choice – Cape Fear Development Partners of Wilmington. Cape Fear is a development arm of Cape Fear Commercial, a commercial real estate firm headquartered in Wilmington.