NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposed Government Center redevelopment project and the associated development agreement, at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, June 15 at 9 a.m.
The Government Center, located at 230 Government Center Drive in Wilmington, NC, was originally constructed as a retail shopping center in 1989 and the county bought and renovated the building beginning in 2002. Because of the age of the structure and amount of unusable and inefficient space that exists, it has become expensive to operate and will require a significant amount in additional maintenance and repair investments over the next 20 years.
The potential redevelopment of the Government Center site would include a newly-designed facility for county offices, including an expanded Emergency Operations and 911 Center, as well as mixed-use commercial and residential, with affordable housing, greenspace, and an increased tax revenue for the county and the city.
“I believe we have accomplished a development plan that is forward-thinking, focuses on the needs and safety of our employees, stewards tax payer resources effectively, and creates a purpose-designed facility that puts the customer’s experience at the heart of what we do,” said County Manager Chris Coudriet. “The conceptual design includes a ‘one-stop-shop’ for customers to arrive at the Government Center and be served all in one place, and creates a state-of-the-art Emergency Operations and 911 Center that is expanded based on our needs. This redevelopment project has the potential to ensure we have the best facility for New Hanover County to serve our residents every day and also respond to any and all emergencies – from storms to pandemics.”
Under the proposed development agreement, the county would retain ownership of the land where a new Government Center would be built; and then sell the other half of the property (approximately 7.5 acres of the total 15.01 acres) to the developer – Cape Fear FD Stonewater, LLC – for approximately $5 million (at $15.28 per square foot) to construct a mixed-use residential and commercial development.
The developer would finance, construct, and furnish the county’s Government Center and Emergency Operations/911 Center, and then the county would pay the developer approximately $4.5 million annually over 20 years. At the end of those 20 years, the county would own the building without any debt. In addition, the developer would invest at least $70 million in the phased, private development, which will generate annual county and city tax revenue of more than $730,000 initially with continued growth over time.
“Cape Fear FD Stonewater is committed to working with our community and leaving places better than we found them,” said Managing Partner Brian Eckel. “Our partnership with New Hanover County exemplifies that commitment, by replacing an inefficient 1989 retail mall structure that currently serves as the Government Center, incorporating much-needed greenspace and community gathering areas, and expanding the capability of the county’s emergency operations. We will also bring the added benefit of significant private investment and increased tax revenue on the remaining property. This project has the potential to benefit our community for decades to come.”
The county began the process of seeking a public-private partnership for this redevelopment project in August 2019, with Commissioners approving the development team in January 2020 after a request for qualifications. Since January, an in-depth programing phase has been conducted to determine the county’s needs, the development, management, and financial structure, and preliminary design work for the project.
If Commissioners approve the development agreement in June, the next steps will be to finalize the building and site design, and complete preconstruction and permitting work. Groundbreaking for a new building would take place in January 2021.
If a redevelopment moves forward, county services would remain operational in the current Government Center building and would be moved directly into the new building once it is constructed, to ensure continuity of services.
Public comments about the development agreement can be made in advance of the hearing by calling (910) 798-7411 or by emailing email@example.com by 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 13. Comments made in advance will be shared during the hearing. In addition, public comments can be made in person at the board meeting on June 15. The location of the meeting and the format of in-person comments will be determined based on gathering restrictions due to COVID-19. The specific location and meeting details will be shared with the public closer to the meeting date.
The meeting can be watched live at NHCTV.com, Spectrum channel 13 and Charter channel 5. After the public hearing is held, the board will vote on the proposed development agreement and determine next steps for the project.
Learn more about the project and view the development agreement at NHCgov.com/Government-Center.