Park plans move forward for higher price than originally expected


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — After years of planning, Wilmington’s North Waterfront Park is closer to becoming a reality, but for a higher price than originally expected.

Wilmington City Council approved budgeting more than $11 million additional dollars for the park project, with some of that money being reimbursed by Live Nation.

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The park will be developed between Marina Grill and Sawmill Apartments, but it will be missing some features from the original plans.

“The citizens voted for it in 2016,” said Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo. “Obviously, we have some cost overruns because of the construction market that we find ourselves in.”

According to the city, construction costs jumped after Hurricane Florence, raising the cost of the park from an estimated $20 million to more than $29 million.

This means some features, including the floating dock, natural vegetation with boardwalks and other improvements, will have to be cut for now.

“We tried to put as many of the amenities that the people have asked for into the park,” said Saffo, “with some understanding that we could come back later and make some significant improvements later on.”

The 6.6 acre park will feature a concert venue, walking paths, gardens, a playground, a water feature and more.

It is expected the performance area could accommodate up to 7,000 people, which would make it the largest performance venue in the area.

City council ultimately voted to approve more than $11 million from the city’s debt service for the project.

“We have the money there,” said Saffo, “we’ve used it before to purchase things or do things of this nature.”

Council also voted to amend the city’s agreement with Live Nation, the company that will manage the concert venue. Live Nation will now reimburse the city $2 million after construction is completed.

“More than just an amphitheater, this is going to be a park that the community will be able to enjoy 365 days a year,” Saffo said.

The park also has the opportunity for sponsorship and naming rights, which could bring more revenue into the city.

The city still anticipates that the park will open in early 2021.