WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — On Tuesday, we reported that New Hanover County was exploring the idea of renovating or replacing its Government Complex. On Thursday, we learned more about why, and what plans might involve.
The county has only been using the space since 2006, but leaders say it may be time for an upgrade. County Manager Chris Coudriet says the building is old, inefficient, and too big.
The current building was built in 1989 as a shopping mall. The county says it will cost $20 million to maintain over the next 30 years.
“The biggest thing we see in this building is we have a lot of extra space. Large atriums, such as this, where we are heating, cooling, and cleaning on a daily basis,” said New Hanover County Director of Property Management Sara Warmuth.
That $20 million maintenance cost does not include utilities. County manager Chris Coudriet adds that the way the public utilizes the government center has evolved since the county began using the building in 2006.
“The question is, are we going to use taxpayer dollars to maintain a 30-year-old building that’s not purpose designed, or spend an approximate equal amount of money for a new building that’s purpose designed more efficient,” Coudriet said.
On Monday, administrators will ask county commissioners to approve a resolution which will allow them to consult with private developers.
“The county can have its public purposes here, but also, we can invite the private sector in to do development on this site with us. What that development might look like, we don’t know,” Coudriet said.
Coudriet says the 15 acre plot of land is in a federal Opportunity Zone, and it could be beneficial to allow businesses or residences to be developed alongside a new county government facility. However, he says this is not the reason to do the project.
“They get to defer, over the course of time, their capital gain,” Coudriet said. “So that’s the benefit to them, the benefit to the county is we could end up with a modern purpose-built facility, but also have private development, grow the tax base, and create jobs and let the private sector do that.”
Coudriet says the county owns all of this center, except Ten Pin Bowling Alley. He says the plans to redevelop the area would not have to affect the bowling alley.