A massive development project to bring 570 rentals to 50 wooded acres near a busy Wilmington intersection is moving forward — with a few tweaks.
On Tuesday, the Wilmington City Council voted unanimously to approve the rezoning of the 50 acres of land at the northwest corner of S. 17th Street and Independence Boulevard.
The rezoning will allow Middleburg Communities, a Virginia-based construction and property management company, to move forward with plans to build a 290-unit apartment complex, 170 single-family rentals, 96 townhouses and seven duplexes on the site.
The proposed site under development is among more than 300 acres rezoned in 2013 by Wilmington City Council for the Barclay West development. This rezoning was intended to accommodate large-scale developments and included areas on the north and south sides of Independence Boulevard between S. 17th Street and Carolina Beach Road.
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The company’s plans have changed since the project won unanimous approval from the Wilmington Planning Commission in June. Commission members encouraged developers to consider adding affordable housing to their plan – and they did.
Plans presented on Tuesday called for 15 one-bedroom apartments to be rented at 80% of the region’s median income for at least 10 years. The estimated rental rate for the most affordable apartments is $1,363 per month. The market rate for one-bedroom units is estimated to be around $1,705 in monthly rent.
Developers revised an initial proposal, which included 25 bedrooms at 90% of the area’s median income for at least two years, to reach the final number of affordable units.
Wilmington City Council members Kevin Spears and Clifford Barnett pressed developers to include more affordable units in the project. Spears said he thought 15 affordable units was “weak” for a 570-unit project.
But developers told city council that 15 affordable units was the best they could do.
“We’re kind of stuck in the middle where we’re trying to get as many affordable units out of the project as possible, but at the same time we have to make the project bankable,” said Alexi Papapieris, vice president of development for Middleburg communities, “and if we go any higher, honestly, we may not be able to close the deal.”
The company does not plan to use the federal financial incentives that are often used to encourage affordable housing development, Papapieris said. He added that changing the number of affordable units could delay the project and major revisions to the project planning and land transaction.
“I promise you we’ve looked at this a million different ways,” he said. “That’s the most we can do.”
The affordable units will be located in the five-building apartment complex on approximately 20 acres of land that borders S. 17th Street.
Developers also plan to build a cottage-style rental neighborhood, called The Hamlet. Neighborhood designs locate single-family homes around quad-like shared green spaces. The cottage and townhouse community will be built farther from S. 17th Street on more than 30 acres of land that abuts the Hanover Heights neighborhood.
Reporter Emma Dill can be reached at 910-343-2096 or [email protected]