Monday, December 13, 2010

One Bottle of "Maker's Mark" Coming Right Up!

I contacted Dr. Bruce Williams earlier this year while trying to solve an ongoing saga at the RiverFront (why can't I get grass to grow??) and he provided some invaluable advice.

Dr. Bruce (as he is known locally) is a horticulturist with over 30 years of experience. He is also the host of "DownEast Gardener" which appears weekly on our local NBC station. If you've read his articles or seen him on TV you are already aware, this guys really knows his stuff.

I contacted Dr. Bruce and he was extremely helpful. He immediately identified what should have been my 'first step' several months ago with, "Have you tested your soil?"

I responded with enthusiasm and confidence, "Yes, many times. We tested the soil when we built the retaining walls, we tested the soils when we were bringing in loads of fill dirt, we tested the soils before we built the roads, and we've already tested the soils for the Marina House foundation!"

To elaborate on my own ignorance, in the construction world we test soils for stability before building ON them. In the horticulture world, you test soils before planting to see what's IN them.

Dirt is dirt, right?

Not exactly. So after scientifically collecting random samples (no metal shovels or buckets), filling tiny little boxes along with completing a few forms at our local arboretum and (for FREE) the good people at the State's Department of Agriculture did a REAL soil test of our dirt and posted the results online about two weeks later.

The report? Not good. Even Dr. Bruce was slightly alarmed.

"Where in the world did this soil come from? It is very atypical of soils I usually see in this area"

Strangely, I was a bit relieved. I had been trying to grow grass on this site for almost two years so at least I found comfort in knowing "it wasn't me."

Dr. Bruce was undeterred - his recommendations were delivered with detail and authority. He outlined a prescription of fertilizer and seed that would make the surrounding sites green with envy!

"What do I owe you for your time?" I respond.

"Ahh, how about a bottle of good brown liquor?"

I am grateful that we have someone with his knowledge and resources living right here in Wilmington willing to help our neighbors in a time of need. Thanks Dr. Bruce!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rotary Road-Show? Sort of...

Ann Willard, Dave Spetrino and Darcie Keefe after Dave's presentation about the Northside Re-Development in Wilmington

Every once in a while I get asked by local groups to come and talk about stuff I know a lot about.

Unlike the majority of my public presentations, which include the City Council or the Historic Preservation Commission, these are my favorite kind of gigs because THEY are asking ME to talk to THEM.

It's nice to be invited and fun talking about topics I enjoy - the RiverFront Project is no different.

There are several Rotary Clubs here in Wilmington. I received a call from Greg Uhl who asked that I speak to his lunch group Downtown at the Roudabush Building on the corner of Front and Dock. It must have been well received because later that day I received a call from Darcie Keefe to speak to her group the following week (they meet for breakfast at Bob Rippy's Jungle Rapids on Oleander.)

It would have been easy to fill 30 minutes on the RiverFront project but I expanded my powerpoint presentation to include some background regarding the work our company was involved in the re-development of N 4th Street and the Brooklyn Arts District.

I expounded on the incredible amount of public investment in the Northside of Wilmington with the City's new Convention Center, North Front Street landscaping and pedestrian improvements as well as the incredible new buildings underway at the Cape Fear Community College.

Adding to that, the significant private investment by PPD for their new high-rise global headquarters (also adjacent to our RiverFront Project).

I spoke briefly about the proposed minor league baseball field on the Almont Site to our south before saving the grand finale for an update on our Sawmill Point Marina, the new City RiverWalk and our proposed buildings - especially the Marina House.

Thanks to our local Rotarians for the great work they do within our community. Even better, thanks for allowing me to educate and entertain more of our neighbors about the exciting new developments happening Downtown.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Lift Event!

The "Lift" - views from the first, second and third floors of the Marina House (yes, I have experience operating heavy machinery.)
Friends and associates under the tent with PPD in the background during our Thursday night event.
More of the crowd and our singer, Jesse Stockton under the tent.
Chuck and Mary Dean stopped by, their company, Dean Hardwoods, was located on this site for over 25 years!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

ABP [Always Be Planting!]

I tend to like most folks but I draw the line at people who don't have the ability to recognize the value of trees and understand what they mean to the place you live.

I realize trees may have to come down for buildings or roads but it you aren't replacing lost trees with (many) new ones, well, my respect for you, both personally and professionally, will quickly fade.

Trees are the cheapest, easiest thing to do to improve your yard, your neighborhood, your whole community. You want to know if a City is blessed with strong leadership? Learn about how seriously they take their trees and you'll have your answer.

Proud Spetrino boys with plaque and sign.

City Council presentation for local tree award winners.

When you are walking down the street isn't it easy to enjoy the stroll when your are walking under a canopy of trees? Trees make a neighborhood street more interesting, they also make the street safer, people drive slower when they are cruising along a tree-lined street. Hot out? Stand under a tree.

Ever been to Lumina Station? Forest Hills? Aren't they great spaces? I don't believe it's a coincidence that the most valuable, most desirable homes and businesses are also located in areas with the most plentiful trees.

Every place you like being has trees (and the beach doesn't count.)

It's always great to be acknowledged for your hard work but I can't put into words my appreciation for the RiverFront Project being recognized for its street trees. It's an accomplishment that makes me very proud.

I think this proverb sums up my perspective as to the importance of trees and the long-lasting effect they will have on the success of a community:

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in."

If you truly want to make a difference in your community start with some "low hanging fruit" by learning more at the National Arbor Day Foundation. (You get 10 trees free just for joining!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fair Warning: This is not what my voice sounds like...

I have been experimenting with video all week and before I invest a couple hundred dollars on one of those really cool 'flip' cameras I wanted to see what I was getting myself into.

Rusty RELUCTANTLY let me borrow his camera after I promised not to remove the clear plastic protective covering that is still on it from when he bought it new.

Something is wrong with the sound though, my voice doesn't sound all 'nasally and whiny' like that. It's much smoother in real life, like the guys that do the voice-overs for movie trailers, more "velvet-like"...

But what you will see is a great, (slightly shaky) shot taken of the main approach to the Marina from Cowan Street and the beginnings of our new 'district' along the Wilmington RiverFront.

Write back and let me know if you think I should make the jump to new technology (and a lapel mic!)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

RiverWalk: Wilmington's "Most Visited"

I am really proud of the newest section of RiverWalk adjacent to our project along the River. We were charged with the design, management and construction and it turned out great.

The contract for the section by the new Convention Center has been awarded and will be working its way North. It won't be long before our section is extended South. While our portion isn't the "Most Visited" (yet) it will be soon!

Some more 'experimental video' for you to check out.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Marina House!

The Marina House. 11 residential homes, all with water views, and our Marina Club Room. Downtown Waterfront living - from the $170's. Contact us today for details and a private tour of the project.