Wilmington City Council: Downtown Alive continues, affordable housing project canceled

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington City Council met Wednesday night and made decisions about a variety of issues, from the future of Downtown Alive to affordable housing.

Downtown Alive started back in June as a way for restaurants to expand seating while maintaining social distancing, and thanks to city council it will remain alive for at least a few more weeks.

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The program shifted last month from full street closures to parklets only. This means 24 restaurants can expand their seating into the parking spaces in front of their business.

the city has been renting barricades in order to make this happen. On Wednesday, council appropriated $5,600 from the Municipal Services District fund and a $1,300 donation from the Downtown Business Alliance to fund those rentals.

Mayor Bill Saffo explained to the decision.

“It’s been a good partnership, it’s helped the businesses to get through this very tough time that we find ourselves in,” Saffo said. “We think it was a worthwhile cause and we want to work with the downtown business owners to see if we can help them.”

The program will now continue through November 22.

And you may want to pay attention to where you park if you decide to take advantage of Downtown Alive. Council also voted on new parking time limits in certain areas following a nine month pilot program.

The 200 block of Orange Street, the 100 and 200 blocks of Ann Street, and the 300 block of South 2nd Street will now only allow one hour parking for non-permit holders from 900 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and permit only parking from 5:30 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.

The 200 block of South 2nd Street will be permit only from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 am., but unlike during the study it will allow for one hour parking to non-permit holders thanks to a request from the Children’s Museum.

“The Children’s Museum was affected by this, the Children’s Museum sat down with the residential owners there in the historic district and came up with a compromise that we think works,” Mayor Saffo said. “It was a good win win situation for the property owners, for the Children’s Museum and for the City of Wilmington and we feel that we did the right thing.”

Residential and visitor permits can be purchased at the Park Wilmington office downtown.

Also discussed at the meeting, an affordable housing project planned for the Pines of Wilmington Apartments will not be happening after the potential buyer withdrew their application.

The non-profit Foundation for Affordable Housing out of Nebraska planned to buy the Pines, renovate the apartments, and make 75 percent of them affordable housing.

The Foundation had asked for the city’s endorsement to receive up to $25 million in federal financing. But after visiting the property, Mayor Saffo says the non-profit decided the project would not work for them.

“It is unfortunate that we were not able to make that happen with the Pines, but they are still very interested in coming here to Wilmington,” Saffo said. “They see the need here in Wilmington and they are a very reputable company, and we feel that we will be able to do business with them in the coming year.”

Mayor Saffo says the Foundation is actively looking at properties to purchase in Wilmington.

Council also approved a four-part ordinance approving funding for the North Waterfront Park project, and funding for new equipment for the Wilmington Police Department’s SABLE unit.

Click here to view the agenda.

Click here to watch the full council meeting.