Ballpark could bring homes and businesses to downtown Wilmington

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Submitted: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 1:34am
Updated: Wed, 10/31/2012 - 12:33pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — If voters say yes to a baseball stadium next week, we could see some businesses and homes in downtown Wilmington.

Patrick Melton of South Street Partners says the Charlotte-based private real estate investment company has put in an offer to buy the Upper Dean Tract. That’s next to the Sawmill Point property between Cowan Street and the Isabel Holmes Bridge the city is negotiating to buy for a ballpark. Melton is listed as a manager for Sawmill Point.

In a news release, Melton says South Street would build high-end residential and retail space if voters approve a bond referendum to build the ballpark.

“We are serious about making downtown Wilmington a magnet for economic development,” Melton said in the release. “We know that the ballpark will make this area of downtown a true destination for entertainment and business. A mixed-use project overlooking the ballpark will be another key asset in the area’s ongoing development.”


  • Korys Dad says:

    Please take the time to watch, listen AND learn!!​v/4116336/economist-no-econom​ic-benefits-to-new-stadiums/

    Vote NO on stadium…

  • Josh Fulton says:


    I don’t know if you guys are trying to be “balanced” or what, but I would certainly rethink the title of this piece. There are dozens and dozens of studies showing that the economic impact of publicly funded baseball stadiums is ultimately NEGATIVE. It’s one of areas where there’s the most agreement in economics.

    Additionally, South Street partners might say their “serious about making downtown a magnet for business”, but they only care about making a buck, something I typically don’t have a problem with. But they’re trying to make a buck by using the government to their advantage, something I don’t agree with. Well, let me rephrase that. If it went through on its own, and they capitalized, I wouldn’t disagree. But because they’re lobbying for this terrible thing I disagree and think they’re slime balls if they have the good sense to know this is a terrible deal and they’re pushing for other people to be hurt anyway.

    Again, WWAY, I would change the title of this and get other voices for a more balanced piece.

    – Josh Fulton

  • Vog46 says:

    Got the heads up from Jim…………he’s the guy we should thank


  • Vog46 says:

    I don’t think so Tom,

    They gotta clear them Bushes before they can build….
    Only joking of course.


  • Carol Kramer says:

    Vog46…Thank you so much. Nice to see such good civic involvement and caring.

  • Vog46 says:

    Sorry forgot the link to the stdium article regarding Gwinnette county:

    How good was the timing of this article eh?


  • Guest2020 says:

    So what? Does anyone in their right mind really want to live in downtown Wilmington?

  • Guest704 says:

    “If you build it, they will come.”

  • SurfCityTom says:

    I can see it coming. The Yes contingent will blame it all on Bush.

  • Vog46 says:

    Taxpayers on the Hook for Gwinnett, Ga. Baseball Stadium
    Public subsidies for stadiums are win-lose propositions: The teams win, and the taxpayers lose.
    A. Barton Hinkle | October 31, 2012
    Bitter recrimination was the order of the day when the Richmond Braves ball club lit out for Gwinnett, Ga., four years ago. The AAA team had demanded a replacement for its aging ballpark, The Diamond, and local officials hadn’t come through. The city and surrounding counties were denounced as the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.
    Now it’s beginning to look like they dodged a bullet.
    County leaders in Gwinnett lured the Braves from Richmond by borrowing millions to build the team a spanking-new stadium. Residents were ecstatic over what the Gwinnett Daily Posttermed the fulfillment of “Gwinnett’s dream.” A study plumped Gwinnett as “an ideal location” and “one of the strongest markets in the country” for a minor-league club. The paper said surveys showed “overwhelming support” for the proposal.
    But the bloom, as they say, is off the rose.
    Indeed, disillusionment set in almost immediately. A consultant’s study had pitched a stadium costing $25 million to $30 million. The price soon climbed to $45 million. By the time construction was complete, the cost had jumped to $64 million.
    That wasn’t the only sticker shock. “G-Braves Ticket Prices Steep,” ran a 2008 story in the Daily Post. “Even the cheapest section of the Braves’ season tickets cost more than what fans are paying for the most expensive seats in the team’s final season in Richmond,” the paper reported. Fans, it said, were not pleased.
    Perhaps because of those steep ticket prices, attendance has fallen short of projections. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the team was supposed to average more than 6,000 fans per game. Actual attendance: 4,800 in 2010 and 5,000 in 2011, when the Braves ranked “24th out of 30 AAA teams in average attendance.” At a typical game, less than half the stadium seats are filled.
    But then, the grand design was not merely to provide entertainment for the masses. Luring the Braves to Gwinnett was supposed to bring a fresh stream of revenue to county coffers and light a private-sector spark that would ignite a brushfire of ancillary development. Neither has happened.
    “Gwinnett Braves Parking Revenue Falls Short of County Expectations,” the Atlanta paper headlined in 2009. Gwinnett charges a stadium parking fee of $3 per car or truck, and $10 per bus. “The county, which had predicted $200,000 in revenue from parking proceeds this year, has received slightly more than $31,000.”
    Three years later, the story hasn’t changed. “Gwinnett officials said the stadium would pay for itself,” noted the AJC in September. Yet “they later approved a 3 percent car-rental tax to help repay” the stadium debt. What’s more, “even that might not be enough: An AJC investigation last year showed the tax—along with parking, rent and other stadium revenue—won’t be enough to cover the debt when principal payments begin in 2014.”
    But what about all the fancy development? Plans originally called for 300 hotel rooms, 600 residences, more than 300,000 square feet of retail space and twice that much office space. As of last month, the principal developer had broken ground on fewer than 250 apartments—and was so discouraged he wanted to sell part of his holdings to another developer who would build more apartments.
    County officials said no. For one thing, nearby homeowners worried about the effect on their property values: “They said they were promised an upscale commercial area,” writes the AJC, “not apartments and car washes.” Besides, Gwinnett officials “say the original plans are worth waiting for.” The chairman of the county planning commission admits the original vision “may not be viable at the moment, but I think it was a good plan originally.”
    In Gwinnett’s defense, the stadium was being completed right around the time the economy—and the real-estate market in particular—was imploding. High unemployment and high anxiety drive down spending, especially on entertainment. Gwinnett’s investment could turn to gold once the economy fully rebounds.
    But history suggests otherwise. Economists, who usually disagree about nearly everything, are united on one point: Public subsidies for sports stadiums are win-lose propositions: The teams win, and the taxpayers lose.
    There may be non-economic benefits to hosting professional ball clubs, such as civic pride or a sense of regional identity. But the consultants’ reports never make that point. They never say: “The stadium will be a money-loser, but at least you’ll feel good about yourself.” Instead, they routinely sell stadiums as almost miraculous economic cornucopias.
    Gwinnett is providing an object lesson in the virtue of reading those reports with a grain of salt.

    Sound familiar?
    Vote “NO” for piece of mind


  • guesty says:

    How original.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    but if I read correctly, his proposal to buy the adjacent parcel of land is contingent on the referendum passing.

    He and his associate definitely own the riverfront parcel.

    The residential use is planned for the higher ground.

  • Vog46 says:

    “By the way, did you see Schoninger is now looking at cold storage facilities at the port for his next venture. Planning to use those same Chinese investors he was using at his ground zero. Amazing what you can learn by googling.”

    You know – I don’t google as well as younger people do which is why ‘ol Vog provides links to the stuff that he posts here (Hint hint)

    C’mon Tom – I talk in complete sentences and try not to use jargon – which is why I don’t “tweet” (I squeak but that’s because my joints need oil).
    If you allude to a search that paid off – then provide the link…….


  • Vog46 says:

    Sawmill Point was supposed to be a mixed development with some residential units to go along with the marina from what I remember.
    According to J. Hinnant there are 35 acres(?) awaiting development. Its a shame to waste 8 for a ball park that will be occupied only 70 NIGHTS per year.
    A river front condo complex would be far better. With parking on the bottom two floors so as to provide protection to homeowners from floods.
    the PRO stadium side seems to think that if this proposal is voted down there will be no development and nothing further will happen down there. I quite confused by that outlook as there was a LOT of interest prior to this ball park being bantered about. The only thing that stopped this development was the economy and the loss of lending monies. I see this reversing quite strongly now.
    The development in this area of downtown is moving along quite nicely and we don’t need a stadium – and certainly don’t need the city financial losses that go along with it.
    Its far better to allow private development in this area…


  • Vog46 says:

    No that’s not how I read it
    Think about it
    Melton admits to being Sawmill Point
    He also admits to being Southstreet partners

    If he doesn’t buy the land off of himself what does he do with it?
    He either develops it, or sells it.
    For anyone to think that these parcels of land will NOT be developed without a stadium – is being foolish and a lot of people think this is an all or nothing proposition.

    I am just glad to see residential development being proposed, Whether the balllaprk goes through, or not, THAT’S whats needed !!!


  • SurfCityTom says:

    who owns what? The parcel intended for the ballpark, if the referendum passes, is owned by the duo from Charlotte; and they bought it from SunTrust Bank.

    Their offer to buy the second parcel, also owned by a bank, is contingent on the referendum passing and the ballpark being built.

    Following this is like walking into a quagmire; and you almost need a good title search to determine who owns what.

    I have not checked on Schoninger’s parcel. His Chapter 11 filing included back taxes due New Hanover County which were to be paid over a 5 year period.

    Look at USAInvest and you would think they are floating in Chinese Capital. Which causes one to ask — where did the investments go and how could foreclosures be taking place.

    Maybe that explains his sudden interest in storage facilities at the Port with Chinese funding.

    Somebody is going to get burned. That program requires the area for investment to be rural — which downtown Wilmington certainly is not; OR it must be economically depressed with an unemployment rate 150% higher than the surrounding area. I don’t think Wilmington qualifies on either basis unless they are tweaking the numbers by including the campus populace for both CCFC and UNCW.

    And he’s apparently onto another venture.

    And if you look at an earlier post, he left Colorado with lawsuits pending.

    I don’t know how you pull off city slicker stuff like this and still sleep and not cut your throat while shaving.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    and then search for schoninger or USAInvestCo of which he is President. Nice vidoe which includes everyone’s favorite, Jason Thompson.

  • Guest1984 says:

    Nonsense- the ballpark is bad economically for our city. I love baseball but this stadium and a single A team is a loser. Brought to us by many of the same folks who told us what a great deal the convention center would be. Enough is enough- this wilmington cabal must be defeated or we get what we deserve- trash leaders like Saffo, Sheridan and O’Grady—vote your interest and defeat them and the special interests that would make a bundle if they get this through. They couldnt sneak this one by us-so they will lose even though they can outspend us by 4-1

  • Guest2020 says:

    If the mayor had Wilmington’s best interest at heart he would have stuck to his campaign promise to say “no” to a taxpayer funded stadium because, in his words, it is something that Wilmington cannot afford. I am not so naive that I believe that politicians keep their campaign promises, but his flip-flop on the issue should be a red flag to those who want Wilmington taxpayers to pay for this stadium. There has been no magic spell or genies that have granted Wilmington the ability to pay for this stadium in the short time span since Saffo’s “promise”.

    Vog,I simply love your posts. I don’t think I have seen anyone else on these boards as well-informed on this issue as you are. I am glad you are fighting to the finish. Keep up the good work.

  • Vog46 says:

    It’s good to see this but it would happen ballpark or not.
    Wilmington is a good place to live – right now – even without a ball park.
    And, like Durham, the city may be recognizing that the best long term growth strategy has got to include residents that are in the area 24/7, and not an entertainment venue that operates only for 2.5 hours 70 times per year.
    Residential development also pays taxes which is good.
    They also have their own insurance which is VERY good.

    Think about this.
    Picture the next Hurricane Sandy pushing a wall, or surge of water 13 feet high up the Cape Fear.
    If we pass the ballpark referendum – the city will be on the hook for out of pocket repairs to
    1 – replace the entire River Walk
    2 – Repair or replace the convention center
    3 – Repair or replace the ball field

    As mayor Bloomberg said yesterday (I will paraphrase) “We have to plan better. In the last 18 months we’ve had two events that were classified as “100 year” events. We have to plan for climate change.”

    Think about it.
    What would WE be facing at the CC and River walk had Sandy come through here?

    I can tell you this. It would cause and almost immediate rise in taxes to pay for the extensive damages.
    A stadium owned privately would be insured as would river front condo’s.

    We need to get city owned property out of harms way…….


  • Joe T. says:

    you did see the shenanigans where the developer is going to sell the low lying property to the city for the baseball stadium and keep the higher ground for homes and businesses.

  • Guestred says:

    Oh, NO!!! Progress? No, say it isn’t so! We certainly can’t have that here!

  • Vog46 says:

    What a bizarre statement you make.
    Is the pro side now lowered itself to throw immature, irrelevant statements out there to disparage anyone who is against the stadium?
    Is this what you’re reduced to?

    Most folks on the No side fall into the categories of not wanting the city to get so heavily involved in private enterprise. This is a legitimate argument but goes more toward political philosophy.
    There are some folks that just don’t like baseball, wouldn’t go to a game and don’t want to pay for it. Even your side admits they anticipated some of that.
    Myself? I fall into its not worth it group. There is no economic benefit from 95% of all stadiums in MiLB. I have completely refuted the findings of NSS with studies facts and figures.
    But that does NOT mean I’m against progress or growth – its just that stadiums don’t provide it. to assert that WE are against progress or growth is boorish and childish. In fact if you look CLOSELY you’ll see how almost all my posts indicate that I support baseball if privately built. Why? Well if there’s no debt to repay the city benefits almost immediately.
    So why are YOU against growth? Why are you against a bigger degree of progress? A more immediate measure of progress?
    Your argument smacks of Kueblerisms. That jerk tried to say that the city is so badly run and maintained that we need ANYTHING to provide growth – even if it costs us $54M.
    How insulting to this city. Yes we do have issues that need addressing that includes infrastructure improvements – but to claim that being anti ballpark equates to anti progress is immature and illogical.
    A privately owned stadium pays property taxes – a PLUS for the city.
    Without debt the first tax dollar realized is a net gain – a PLUS for the city.

    Why you guys are so down on Wilmington is beyond me. But your feigned disbelief is becoming tiresome to deal with.
    You are an irresponsible lot; that does NOT have the city’s best interest at heart.


  • SurfCityTom says:

    if I read correctly, the adjacent development is contingent on the bond referendum passing and the City property owner taxpayers footing the bill for construction of the balpark.

    Did you read it that way? It sure seems as though that is how it would go down.

    For the record, isn’t the proposed site the one SunTrust Bank foreclosed on; which they now have sold for a large loss.

    By the way, did you see Schoninger is now looking at cold storage facilities at the port for his next venture. Planning to use those same Chinese investors he was using at his ground zero. Amazing what you can learn by googling.

  • Vog46 says:

    Since not all people like baseball.
    To publicly state that a stadium would attract a residential development is disingenuous at best.
    What we need IS residential development down town. We need people there 24/7 not 2 hours 70 nights per year.
    Residential development would pay PROPERTY taxes – the stadium will not.
    Durham now realizes it needs people down town.
    We should too.
    Riverfront condo’s INSTEAD of ball parks.
    Get serious Wilmington.
    Ball fields are for games
    We need people down there


  • Nathan Budrow says:

    Vote no for the referendum.
    Vote yes for SurfCity Tom to find a new hobby…

  • SurfCityTom says:

    developers make offers all of the time; many of which fail to come to fruition.

    And given the $1.6 million profit he and his associate stand to make if the referendum passes and the city moves forward and buys his piece of earth for the stadium, he certainly has a vested interest in seeing the referendum pass.

    If the ballpark is such a good idea, perhaps he could get Chuck to give him access to all of those foriegn investors who, for a minimum investment of $500,000 would also go to the front of the line for Green Cards.

    Heck, at $30 Million for construction, it should only take 60 of those Chinese investors to privately fund the stadium; and private funding is the way to go for this deal.

    Vote NO for the referendum.

  • Carol Kramer says:

    WOW…these developers are delusional. Here’s hoping that the citizens of Wilmington recognize the similarity of these “baseball” advocates to horse traders, snake oil salesmen, wheeler dealers, shysters, and con artists. Who in their right mind would pay for their base ball stadium? Do not trust anyone who wants your money. Simple really.

    “We know that the ballpark will make this area of downtown a true destination for entertainment and business.”

    No, it won’t. But, if by some astronomical chance it goes according to their plan, it will bring traffic, noise, congestion, more parking problems…all things that detract from quality of life. If it fails, it will be abandoned by the Atlanta Braves…leaving behind decades of debt.

    But for argument’s sake, let’s say the stadium gets built and every game is sold out. For the Wilmington tax payer it would be the same as if there was zero attendance…because this is a zero profit sharing proposition! This is a proposition where, from a business perspective, there is NO upside to the taxpayer. None. Not ever.

    Vote NO.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    pokes his head above ground.

    Why would you assume this is a hobby?

    The fact that I choose to live outside of the city does not mean I do not own real estate on which taxes are assessed and which I pay.

    I have chips on the table for this issue. Do you?

  • Guest5050 says:

    “If voters say yes to a baseball stadium next week, we could see some businesses and homes in downtown Wilmington”
    We could see unicorns, the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause, but I don’t look for it anytime soon.

  • Katherine says:

    Sawmill Point Investors, the owner of the proposed baseball property, is a division of South Street Partners. Sawmill Investors is the single largest contributor to the “Vote Yes” campaign. This “offer” they put in was essentially made to themselves.
    Of *course* they want the stadium built, as they stand to make millions on the deal from just the sale of the baseball stadium property alone. They can dump their flood plain property on the city of Wilmington, and use the profits from that to develop their other, higher piece of land.
    This is a desperate last ditch effort to squeeze the taxpayers for money, by the people who stand to profit from it the most. DO NOT BE FOOLED.

  • Delanne says:

    I think it is just a shame that wilmington along with a majority of America has gotten so frivolous that we would spend thousands maybe even millions of dollars on an uneccessary ballpark when only last winter they shut down several homeless shelters due to lack of funding and are cutting costs in the health and social service departments… where has the humanity gone people?…

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