Council to vote on mixed-use affordable housing complex at old WAVE Transit site

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The push for affordable housing in Wilmington has been a work in progress for years, but more could be on its way.

On Tuesday night, Wilmington City Council will vote on a final agreement with Hipp Architecture and Development, PC for a mixed-use development at 1110 Castle Street, the old WAVE Transit site.

Clark Hipp, the developer, says his plan is to incorporate affordable housing into the development with up to 23 affordable housing condos. He says the old WAVE Transit site has been fenced off with bared wire for decades, and hopes this project will help give the land back to the community.

“We feel like the opportunity to provide housing that fits within the community, that is affordable within the community, along with those commercial uses creates a dynamic and active site,” Hipp said.

Hipp Architecture first proposed the development in October 2019. Clark Hipp says the two existing buildings on the property will be renovated for commercial space, and they’ll add two more buildings for residential space.

“The new units that we will build in the two new buildings will be sold in the affordable market for people making 80% or below the area median income,” he said.

Hipp says they plan to build up to 23 one- and two-bedroom condos in the two new buildings, which will then be sold to Habitat for Humanity and East Coast Community Development, Inc. as affordable housing.

Concerns over affordable housing in Wilmington have been an ongoing issue as many luxury units keep popping up.

“It’s extremely important that not only are we increasing our affordable housing stock, but we’re keeping those houses, and apartments, and complexes that are affordable now, at an affordable rate for the future,” Good Shepherd Center Assistant Director Kyle Abrams said.

Abrams says affordable housing is really needed in all areas of the community.

“I think our community doesn’t quite understand, or is on the verge of understanding the need here,” Abrams said.

According to the development proposal, the project has the potential to attract up to 15 commercial tenants.

“It’s certainly a great fit along Castle Street,” Hipp said. “It’s a great opportunity to draw that type of development along Castle Street.”

Hipp says they could also potentially add more residential space to the existing buildings, but that would not be guaranteed to be affordable housing.

If approved, he says they’ll apply for a Brownfield Agreement through the N.C. DEQ to figure out if any additional remediation is needed on the land.

Hipp says there used to be fuel tanks on the property which were removed in the 1990s, and remediation was done by the city. But since they’re redeveloping the land through a private lending institution, Hipp says they’ll have to go through the process of applying for a Brownfield Agreement.

Hipp says they’re expecting the application process to take around six months, and hopes to start construction in the spring of 2021.

If the development is approved, Hipp hopes the two existing buildings will be done by late 2021, and the new condo buildings by the summer of 2022.

He expects the project to cost around $7.5 to $8.5 million.

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