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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The City of Wilmington apparently knows which site it wants to build a ballpark if voters approve a bond referendum.

WWAY has obtained the latest draft copy of an option agreement for the city to purchase land from Sawmill Point Investors, LLC, of Charlotte. City spokeswoman Malissa Talbert says the agreement is still in negotiation, but it calls for the city to pay Sawmill a one-dollar option for the riverfront parcel between Cowan Street and the Isabel Holmes Bridge.

Click here to see the draft option agreement

The deal as it stands now would have the city pay Sawmill $5.2 million for the land. The city has budgeted $6 million of the $37 million proposed bond for site acquisition. Sawmill bought the property in late July for $3.6 million according to county tax records.

According to the agreement, Sawmill has already submitted a Brownfields Application to the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and closing on the property will only happen after Sawmill and DENR have a Brownfields Agreement in place, unless the city waives that condition.

Talbert says the option agreement is on City Council’s agenda for November 7. That’s one night after Election Day, which means discussion of the agreement could be moot if the bond referendum fails.

If the bond vote passes, the city has until December 15 to exercise the option, though it does have the ability to extend the window to four set dates at $50,000 per extension.

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23 Comments on "Wilmington zeroing in on ballpark site"

Rick Wilson
2015 years 10 months ago

This article should read; The Mayor and City Council are zeroing in on the tax payers wallets to pay off friends…….1.6 million dollar profit in 90 days…….anyone want to dispute the fact that the good ole’ boy system is alive and well?

2015 years 10 months ago

Arrogant mayor and council! This is NOT going to pass on election day. I notice the land has been cleared. Who did this and who paid the bill?

Guest Reply
2015 years 10 months ago

First Hurricane that takes a stroll up the Cape Fear River and sits here like Bonnie did, will do this place in…then who will be at blame? That Darn Hurricane will be.
“WHAT WERE WE THINKING?!!” will be asked by Saffo to council!
Of course when that happens…one can sit in the bleachers and fish the waters of the Cape Fear and get some use outta it :-)
I wonder if there will be an “Escape Tunnel” under the field for council members to flee through in case of a Frankenstorm?
Even then…when they pull up in their limo’s to leave through the tunnel…they’ll find it full of “Cape Fear River”! HA!
This gets funnier all the time :-)

2015 years 10 months ago

Does it matter? I don’t believe the county would touch a piece of property the city was interested in. Doesn’t matter if it’s Schoninger or Sawmill. The city has options on both (I thought).
Thats why Schoninger said in the news article they were still negotiating.


2015 years 10 months ago

And I bet the County will not foreclose on land that the city has an ‘option to buy” on.

What do you think?


2015 years 10 months ago

at the time of filing the Chapter 11 action, just days before the foreclosure would have been affirmed, New Hanover County was owed $21,500 in back, unpaid property taxes.

Don’t take my word for it. It’s a public document that anyone can review.

I’m still puzzled over this Chinese investment program; all of the millions reported to have been invested; and how this could be an issue.

Of course, Schoninger has moved on to port storage facilities among other recent activities.

I wonder if any of these investors ever check data online?

2015 years 10 months ago

to buy from Schoninger are they? I thought they had a pending deal with the Charlotte based sity slickers.

2015 years 10 months ago

after Ripken Group has the albatross out of the way and can negotiate in good faith, perhaps they can use this site, across the river from Ripken Field, for a water taxi site, amusement park, and barbecue cook off site.

Why not? They have tried every other form of insanity?

Maybe they could relocate the zoo from Carolina Beach Road to this site? At night, turn the big cats loose to clear the streets of predators.

Or, how about a Lumbee Tribal gator wrestling site?

This becomes more absurd with each passing week.

2015 years 10 months ago

Smell Test ??? More like a STINK BOMB !!!!
Got to check closely to follow the real estate money trail.

Say it ain't so Joe
2015 years 10 months ago

Gee… ya think Sawmill had some insider info on where the stadium was going to be built?? I remember walking in that area back in 2011 and observing a board talking about development of the riverfront… low and behold, the images on the board had a baseball stadium right on that site. Certainly doesn’t pass the smell test to me.

2015 years 10 months ago

We pay $5.2M
Sawmill paid $3.6M

A 44% increase in 3 months !
Why – this should be on that reality show Flip This Property !!!!!

And GET this folks.
This means that $800,000 gets put into the ball park development fund !!!
Yeah doggie –
Gotta love those hard bargaining city officials eh?


2015 years 10 months ago

Imagine, Vog, if the property was financed at say 80%. That means $720,000 would return $1.8 million profit in 6 months. That works out to a 500% annualized return. Pretty nifty for the chosen few.

The returns that really matter to taxpayers and the city are two:

1. Election returns next week: The shameful stadium tax bond referendum goes down in defeat.

2. Next municipal election returns: Tossing out the mayor and his city council cohorts that wasted so much taxpayer money and time on this project and voted for this ignominious albatross.

Vote NO Stadium TAX!

2015 years 10 months ago

The Santo study that Terry is so fond of says place your ball park away from major thorough fairs so that traffic has to go through down town so that other merchants can’t reap the benefits of the people coming in and out of the area.

So what do our great leaders do? They close in on a land deal that’s even closer to the escape routes of the Isabel Homes Bridge and MLK.

How does it feel stadium supporters?
How does it feel when the city trashes your study and does what IT wants?
How does it feel when they spend 44% more for land that was bought 4 months ago?
The city is doing everything it can to put the final nail in the coffin for this deal.



2015 years 10 months ago

2 members of the LLC which owns the now desired piece of property. A very good rate of return for a couple of guys living in Charlotte according to the Secretary of State’s office.

And the stiletto goes in the backs of the other parcel owners who appear to be closing in on foreclosure if they can not get their loan modified.

And if that foreclosure takes place, the 3 holding the second deed of trust get wiped out.

I’m still puzzled by the reference to payments to New Hanover County on the other parcel had the bankruptcy plea been granted.

Of course, unless the city has an untapped secret pool of money, all of this is for naught when the bond referendum takes a nose dive next week.

I wonder if Terry and Dukie have reserved a room at the Convention Center to use as a command headquarters on election day? That would count as an event.

2015 years 10 months ago

Looks like the friends and donors to wilmington’s “leaders” will be rewarded with a quick $1.6 million.

2015 years 10 months ago

$3.6 million in JUly. Sell for $5.2 million in NOvember or December. Even after Brownfield considerations, that is a very nice turnover and profit in a very few months.

I wonder if the City considered that i setting the purchase price.

2015 years 10 months ago

Schoninger’s property at 8.5 acres was SUPPOSED to have a city park attached that the city would pay for. In fact, the PPP poll asked several question about whether attaching the park would make yo vote for the referendum.
This land may now be too small for a public park, AND a ballfield.

What a travesty this is already !!!!
Wait – now they’ll have to extent Riverwalk even further !!!
(Oh you mean they planned it that way?)


Joe T.
2015 years 10 months ago

Sure, I am against a Tax Funded Stadium but I am all for a stadium that is PRIVATELY FUNDED and built elsewhere.

Where is the parking? Sure, we know folks will be ferried from the Parking Garages downtown but have you ever tried to get out of one them on a busy day? Built this stadium somewhere else on land that can have parking adjacent to it and can be easily entered and exited.

This riverfront property is PRIME and if developed properly by a private company will be paying PROPERTY TAXES. If the city buys it and develops it, you will have taken one of the rapidly diminishing waterfront properties and not only take it off the tax roles but also put a bargain basement variety of stadium on it that will have a narrow scope of usefulness. By this, I mean that for other than ballgames probably in the evenings, it will be closed or not available to the city (as per the agreement of 10 times a year).

Since you are taking this property off the tax roles, why don’t you put a public park here? It could be called the River Front Park and have the River Walk ending at it would be perfect. Families will have use of this property 5-10 more hours a day than a stadium.

Jose Tomas
2015 years 10 months ago

Howdy folks, I see there is a marina on this riverfront lot that was intended for the residents of the now incomplete development. There is infrastructure already in place e.g. sewer, water streets and this property is currently paying property taxes.

– What is going to happen to the marina? Is the city going to take that and directly complete with other marina like the one just above the Isabel Holmes bridge?

(I would think that would be a conflict of interest and may violate laws where the city will be in direct competition with a business).

– If the marina is retained; will it be making money and where will that money go?

– Will all this infrastructure come out of the ground or will some of it be recycled to save the tax payers money?

– Drainage: I am aware that many structures and developments require a certain amount of land for run off so the river isn’t polluted by fertilizers, oils from cars, misc wastes such as washing down a stadium with spilled beer, sode and hotdogs scraps?

– Will the square footage of the development and paved areas exceed what was originally approved for the housing development and if so, how are we going to mitigate the impact.

– Traffic: again, there was a development slated with what, a hundred or so homes there and the road and traffic scheme was currently updated to accommodate that. Now we are talking about 5-6000 people either walking, being dropped off or being ferried to parking garages; can the road, sidewalks, lighting, handicap provisions etc support this significant increase?

Just saying, sounds like this ball park stadium should be built across the river near the Battleship; just think how much better that would be and you could look at it from the deck of Level 5 and say, gee how Wilmington has grown.

2015 years 10 months ago

not foreclosed on by the lender? That would make it banked owned; and not impacted by this travesty.

You are a wishful thinker if you feel the City is concerned about saving the taxpaers money.

Vote No is the easy solution to this cram down the city is attempting to push down the property taxpayers’ throats.

Guest 5
2015 years 10 months ago

The Marina will be built on this site. The City will request another Bond Referendum in July 2013 and ask for an additional Tax Increase. It says so in the Department of the Treasurer, filing.

2015 years 10 months ago

Provide a link – please for the Treasurer’s filing.

As for another tax increase – it was already planned for. Revenue neutral pertains to the ad valor um taxes collected on property.
The Convention Center fund is almost dry and they may need to raise taxes in order to pay the next installment – OR – they realize that voters are forcing them to address finances finally and they are trying to make sure they have the $ to pay the bills


Guest 1492
2015 years 10 months ago

This appears to have the stink of an insider deal all over it.

If you think it’s bad now, just imagine how many insider deals would occur if the bond issue was ever actually approved.


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