WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — For years many people have called the Water Street Parking Deck in downtown Wilmington an eyesore. City Council is working to change that, but it might not turn out the way some had wanted.
The city sold the deck in 1997 then bought it back a decade later at a higher price. Now it is looking for ways to maximize the value of the property.
“It looks like it is taking a lot of work and money to keep it up to where it is safe to use, and that’s true,” Councilwoman Laura Padgett said. “That’s why council has made the decision that it really needs to go.”
But not everyone agrees.
“I think we need just a well-maintained parking deck there,” said Lector Bennett, owner of Cape Fear Wine and Beer nearby. “With all the vacant buildings downtown, I don’t think we need another mega structure.”
The city contracted the UNC School of Government’s Development Finance Initiative for $50,000 to develop a plan for the best use of the land; something the city has been trying to do for years.
“If we wanted to do something fast, we would just ask for proposals, which is what we did before,” Padgett said.
Council says it wants to create public connections to the river. While some city leaders have pushed to turn the land into green space, DFI found through market research and meetings with area stakeholders the area would be better suited for residential purposes, a hotel or office space.
Even with a good portion of the parking deck facing the Hilton, Padgett hopes to see some green.
“I hope there will be some gardens planted, or garden type plantings on Chestnut Street,” she said.
DFI expects to wrap up its research by the middle of next year. Then council says it will decide whether to move forward and seek proposals to redevelop the site.