Friday, July 10, 2009

Project Update July 10, 2009

I am starting to feel a little bit like a lightening rod. Usually July is a pretty quiet month for construction and development. It’s hot, people are on vacation but this week has been one adventure after another.

First, a quick report on the project.

The RiverWalk has passed its first round of inspections and the actual deck boards are being installed today. This is exciting and will be quickly followed by the rails, light poles benches and other features. For someone like me who really enjoys the existing Downtown RiverWalk, the pending completion of this phase is terrific.

We had quite a bit of rain this week but it was great to see all of the stormwater systems doing their job. Most of the utilities are substantially complete. We have a few odds and ends but as soon as those are wrapped up we can start leveling off the dirt, backfilling, grading and preparing for sidewalks and landscaping. We are still on track to complete the major infrastructure components by late August. The only bottleneck that we can foresee is the roundabout at the base of Cowan Street – the work is ‘off site’ which means the level of management and coordination is a bit more challenging.

SunTrust, our lending partner, made a site visit this week as well. The local guys brought with them Kempton Shields, one of the chiefs from HQ and I believe they continue to be favorably impressed.

And in other news, we’ve been in the news a lot this week!

Yesterday (July 9) the Greater Wilmington Business Journal ran a detailed article about the project along with some of the back story associated with how we went from being a Builder looking to buy sites for future buildings to the Developer now owning the project. It’s still too soon to tell if that decision was either a really, really good idea or a really, really bad one… Read more at the GWBJ’s website

And this morning, the Wilmington StarNews ran a story about the potential for a true, RiverFront Park located within a portion of our project. You can read more about the story and see a new aerial image that we took over the weekend

I have mixed feelings about the idea of a park. From a pure development perspective, the best use of the site would not be taking the highest valued piece of land and forgo the opportunity cost to improve it. However, as a Downtown resident and someone who appreciates the power of parks and open space, this could be a huge win for not just Downtown but our whole area.

Long term, the ability for our community to have a city park along the river is not likely to be as readily available in the future, especially as we see local real estate conditions improve and activity around CFCC, PPD and the Convention Center begin to take hold.

Short term, it would help enhance our project. We would gain some momentum, provide the residents of our area another compelling reason to visit Downtown. It may also benefit those considering a residence in one of our buildings or a boat slip in the marina. (Living along the park, overlooking the river and the city skyline). Not an uncommon amenity for most great cities.

It will be interested to see how this story plays out. Feel free to email your thoughts and ideas.

1 comment:

  1. It looks like the work on the hotel next to the Wilmington Convention Center may go on quite awhile longer. The Wilmington River Group lost the contract to build the Hotel Indigo, so I imagine that is going to set the building back quite a bit. What do you think that will do for to the Riverfront Project?