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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — An extreme makeover is coming to downtown Wilmington. No, not a ballpark. The city wants to redesign riverfront park. The architects revealed some of the plans today.

Riverfront Park was developed in the 1980s. Now it’s getting an upgrade.

“The park is obviously old and tired, and we’re gonna hopefully uplift it with perhaps a new water feature, some new vegetation and trees maybe even add some more greenspace,” landscape architect Brian Jenest said.

Downtown Wilmington business owners listened as landscape architects explained their preliminary design Thursday morning.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” business owner John Hirchak said. “I think we need park space in downtown wilmington, and we need park space on the riverfront.”

It also gave them an opportunity to voice their concerns about what’s missing from the design.

“Cleaning up the bathrooms there, cleaning up the pavilion by the kiosks. I think that’s not currently part of the plan, but it should be part of the plan,” Riverfront Park Vendors Coordinator Marjorie Ulcickas said.

Renovating the area in front of the federal courthouse is only phase one of the project. The entire vision includes stretching the entire park all the way up to the Hilton.

The city received a grant several years ago that will cover the $200,000 price tag of phase one.

As of now, the city does not own the parking lot in front of the Coast Guard Cutter Diligence, or the parking lot next to the Hilton, which would be phases two and three. There is not a concrete plan at this point to move forward on negotiating on those properties, nor does the city have any money budgeted for them.

If you’d like to learn more, there’s a public workshop that’s going on until 7 p.m. It’s in the City Council Chambers at City Hall.

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2 Comments on "Wilmington looks at renovations to Riverfront Park"

USCG ret
2015 years 10 months ago

The City leases a significant portion of that waterfront area from the Federal Government (Coast Guard). As long as Cutter Diligence is homeported here, the city will not have a snowball’s chance on any part of it. Once Diligence is decommissioned, it (pier space/parking) is still Federal Property. Similar to Carolina Beach LORAN Station property, the City/State is not going to get free license on it. The Feds will decide the disposition on it.

As it stands now, both parties want to maintain good relations…when COW wants to put silly booths and vendors in the parking area during Azalea festival and Riverfest, the Coast Guard let’s them (because the City would just close the access roads and the crew would have to park blocks away).

I seriously doubt the Coast Guard will replace the Diligence with another cutter (homeported) at that location after Diligence is decommed. That mooring is a throwback to the good old days (pre-9/11). There is not another major cutter on the entire Eastern seaboard which is moored adjacent to a public space with that type of access.

That doesn’t mean Wilmington couldn’t see one down at the some rarely used portion of the State Port…if the politicians fought hard enough.

Despite Wilmington’s present status as a Coast Guard City, the COW would give up their left (insert body part here) to get that property. I don’t think COW would squeal too much if the USCG said they (cutter) were leaving.

Think of the precious cruise ships disgorging thousands of passengers to take in a minor league baseball game. OMG!

Downtown Resident
2015 years 10 months ago

This is good to hear. However, it will still be hard to enjoy. There is no doubt that the scenery is beautiful, BUT it is nearly impossible to enjoy the scenery or relax on one of the park benches. The downtown, homeless population is relentless when it comes to funding their daily goal of getting drunk. Such a shame.


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