Schoninger turns down offer to buy land for ballpark, will reconsider


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As talks about the proposed baseball stadium in Wilmington continue, one property owner has turned down an offer to build the ballpark on his land.

Chuck Schoninger, CEO of USA InvestCo, who also owns property along the Wilmington riverfront near PPD, says the offer he got was just not good enough.

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Schoninger says about 90 days ago, Raiford Trask, a developer and property owner in Wilmington, offered him $4.25 million for an 11-acre parcel. Schoninger owes about $12 million on 16 acres.

“The offer was less than what I could feasibly sell the property for,” he says. “I can’t afford to sell it for less than I owe.”

Not only was the offer not good enough, Schoninger also says he wasn’t sure the group making the offer had the best intentions at heart.

“My fear was that the group that was offering me wasn’t actually the city or the real players that are intended to build the baseball stadium,” he says.

Another reason he said no was the amount of land Trask was asking for. Schoninger says in his judgment, to build a baseball stadium and riverfront park, only 8.5 acres is needed.

“They wanted 11 acres, which to me, led me to believe they wanted more property for development in addition to what the baseball stadium needed,” Schoninger says.

According to a map released by the city Monday, six properties are being looked at as possible sites for the baseball stadium, including the Autumn Hall development along Eastwood Rd. and Schoninger’s property.

Schoninger says he is very enthusiastic about building the ballpark on his land, but needs to sit down with city officials to work out a better deal for all parties involved. So what would it take for him to accept an offer?

“Somewhere in that $6 million range for 8.5 acres is really bottom line for me on what I could afford to do,” he says.

The city will hold a meeting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., which is an hour before polls close for the primary election. The city added another meeting for Wednesday also at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.