BUILDING HISTORY: A look back at downtown

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Submitted: Thu, 03/28/2013 - 1:38am
Updated: Wed, 05/15/2013 - 12:41am

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – Wilmington Downtown Inc. helps businesses build and grow in our city. They watch as the city develops and prospers in its historic setting.

President and CEO John Hinnant has a simple goal.

“Promote economic growth and development,” Hinnant said. “The historic structures and historic building have been a critical part to the success of our community.”

Downtown is a good mix of people and businesses tied together by beautiful architecture. But things haven’t always been like they are today.

Just like old class photo’s buildings change, often for the better.

John plays great game of what was it?

“This was 1970’s ,Front and Dock Street. It sat vacant until just a few years ago, a proposed restraint construction fell through city limits expanded their operation, as a result of the smoking ban they created the outdoor deck ,” Hinnant displays

City limits and the outdoor deck cleaned up a sore spot downtown.

One building is still very recognizable.

“This was the Diamond Feed store, many people will recognize the building with the lettering on it was renovated in the 90’s , and Gene Merritt bought it a few years back and re developed it into condos,” Hinnant said.

Market Street in the 70 wasn’t the show place it is now

“This is a great image from the downtown archives. I call it the lipstick on a pig shot . This was the DMV license office. Today its Slice of Life and Jimmy John’s two iconic structures downtown,” Hinnant shows.

With new store fronts and interiors they have a new life. Do you recognize this blast form the past?

“This is the intersection of Front and Grace Street and people say what downtown needs is a pedestrian mall, well we tried that in the 70’s,” said Hinnant.

The building still right here housing a coffee e shop along with retail.

How about this place?

“This is a calling card to our community, this is one of the most photographed buildings . This is the Riverboat Landing at Water and Market streets . People don’t realize how bad things were in the 1970’s.” Hinnant recalled.

Riverboat Landing is a showplace for downtown often recalling images of Charleston, right by the river.
John says we are a work in progress.

“Downtowns are never done, a story that every town tells is that we are never done,” said Hinnant.
One fun , function of Wilmington Downtown Inc is the Downtown Sundown concert series, they will be tuning up on Water Street in front of the Courthouse every week from May 24 to August 30.

If you know of a building with a story to tell, let me know at cphillips@

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