Leaders continue push to make downtown better

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Downtown leaders got more advice today on how to make the area better.

At a luncheon, business leaders, property owners and real estate professionals discussed trends and issues that affect downtown.

"Wwhen I first started coming downtown in the '80s, there was one good restaurant," Wilmington resident Richard Weisman said. "Now there is a half a dozen good ones."

Weisman says he spends a lot of time drinking coffee and enjoying the downtown atmosphere.

Thursday Wilmington leaders met to think of ways to bring new life to the area.

"Eeconomic development is WDI's main focus, and we work very closely to bring entrepreneurs here to work with those that are already in business to help them perform better," Wilmington Downtown Inc. President & CEO Ed Wolverton said.

He says economic development includes many different types of activities including adding to the residential base. He says the new 120-unit city block apartments will bring much needed growth to downtown.

David Downey is the president and CEO of the International Downtown Association. He says Wilmington is on the right path to creating and sustaining a vibrant downtown atmosphere.

"Really shaping a strong vision for the future and as a community and as a group of leaders committing to that long term vision is what is really going to propel Wilmington to be everything that I know it can be," Downey said.

Weisman says this is a city that has grown tremendously in the past 20 years and hopes the next 20 are just as successful.

"The city is putting money into the infrastructure, the colleges, the private enterprises and when you have that you have a winning combination," Weisman said.

A combination city leaders hope will bring big bucks downtown.

WDI's Wolverton says they city continues to see a resurgence of growth downtown. He says more than $150 million worth of big projects are planned for the central business district.

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I have lived in this town all my life and seen dollar after dollar poured into the Down Town area. There has been Millions spend and it has done no good. Need to put a fence around it and make it a great big bar. That way the police can arrest the drunks when they come out.

I think the first nail in the coffin was the lack of foresight and funds to save the Icehouse. Then (relatively) high rise condo development that blocks the river view. Then parking meters.

Doesn't help that the city continues to buy property, then sell at a loss, then buy back at more than the original price.

Vision? Everything "they" do makes it less attractive for both residents and tourists. Can't remember the last time I went downtown just to walk around.

Kure Beach--free parking.
Southport--free parking.
Heck, even Topsail Beach is worth the drive...

They seem to be doing ok...

Wen I have visitors, downtown is no longer a destination, but Kure and Southport are... doesn't seem like they have so much angst over "vision".

best thing to do downtown is bulldozer it down,

I thought that's what Council is doing with their "Decision Making Process-C's"????
Maybe they should work on Uptown some :-(

I don't think the council realizes that the city limits extend past downtown.

Can you have one of your investigative reporters research and find out:
The number of businesses that have moved from and/or opened up downtown over the last decade?
The current listing of business types down town? (Bars/restaurant versus retailers)
total Available commercial space down town? compared to a decade ago?

Theres a REAL news story here guys

R/S

Vog

I live down town. We really really need a competitive grocery store. Not a super market but not some place that charges $4.00 for a gallon of milk either. A good locally owned and operated grocery store. I know don't hold my breath right?

Craig,

If you had any idea of the cost to equip and inventory a grocery store, you would understand why there isn't one. Carolina Farmin' was as close as you're going to get...and they weren't downtown.

However, you are correct...don't hold your breath.

Got some bad news for you. Most supermarkets charge about $4.00 for a gallon of milk these days.

You're right about not holding your breath though. Grocery stores, like supermarkets are market driven and there aren't too many people willing to take that kind of risk downtown anymore. Despite what the local cheerleaders are espousing, those days are in the past.

something similar to a bodega? They are prevalent in NY City.

Vog

Thank PPD for tanking downtown. Glad I left Wilmington. Traffic is horrendous, parking is worse than the traffic and Mayfaire attracts the right clientele.

Exactly how did PPD tank downtown? Was it by taking a vacant eyesore piece of property and building the tallest building in Wilmington? Or are you still mad you couldn't get hired there?

Wilmington's downtowners have spent so much time patting themselves on the back and congratulating themselves on their tiny successes that they haven't even had time to realize that downtown is officially over as the de facto central business area and gathering place.

It's embarrassing to witness someone trumpet the fact that in twenty years or so only five more good restaurants have opened downtown.

What's even more embarrassing is to find a news article that uses as its primary source on downtown development a guy who says "he spends a lot of time drinking coffee and enjoying the downtown atmosphere". Yep, that sure sounds like the kind of "expert" I'd base a news article on.

Good grief!