Developer ‘blindsided’ by city review of Military Cutoff Road project

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The owner of the company that wants to invest $200 million to build a mixed-use development on Military Cutoff Road in Wilmington says he and his team were “blindsided” by city staff’s analysis of the project.

The Wilmington Planning Commission was scheduled to discuss the Carroll Companies’ plans for The Avenue, a new retail development on Military Cutoff Road, today, but the company hit pause on its request for rezoning and a special use permit.

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The move comes after a city staff review said “the proposal is a major destination-type project in the wrong location with insufficient road system connectivity to distribute the heavy traffic volumes generated by the development.”

“We felt real good after working with city staff for two years,” Carroll Companies owner Roy Carroll told WWAY by phone today.

But Carroll said that changed after city staff released its review of the project recently.

“Some of it doesn’t sound like our project,” Carroll said. He said his company will need time to react to what he called “inaccuracies” in the staff review.

The Avenue is a 44-acre project anchored by a $70 million Westin hotel, on property that is now the site of the Hidden Lakes Mobile Home Park on Military Cutoff near Arboretum Drive across from Mayfaire. Carroll says the Westin would be the area’s first five-star hotel and conference center.

But the city’s review said the project could increase traffic on Military Cutoff by at least 40 percent. Carroll disputes that, saying his engineering team has studied the area extensively.

“We’d be following if we didn’t think the traffic wouldn’t be improved,” Carroll said. “We were going to spend $1-2 million on traffic improvements, on our own dime, on Military Cutoff.”

While the report shows agreement from staff about the positive economic impact of the project, it disagrees that the plan would improve the traffic situation in the already busy area.

According to the review, the project would include 146,100 square feet of office space, 109,100 square feet of retail, a 35,000-square-foot grocery store, nearly 28,000 square feet of restaurant space, a 237-room hotel and 521 apartments.

The Carroll Companies was requesting to rezone the property to urban mixed use. It was also seeking a special use permit to increase the height limit of several proposed buildings to 75 feet.

Carroll says he is not sure how long it will take to get the plan back on track.