WDI hosts economic development luncheon, developers share updates on Project Grace

Wilmington Downtown Incorporated hosted an Economic Development Luncheon on Tuesday where developers shared updates on the proposed construction of an entire block of downtown Wilmington known as "Project Grace."

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Downtown Incorporated hosted an Economic Development Luncheon on Tuesday where developers shared updates on the proposed construction of an entire block of downtown Wilmington known as “Project Grace.”

Project Grace is the name for the potential redevelopment of a New Hanover County-owned block in downtown Wilmington. The block includes the main branch of the New Hanover County Public library, the former Register of Deeds building, a parking deck, and surface parking lots.

Designs for the project were presented to the New Hanover County Commissioners in October by Chris Boney with LS3P. The project is still in the design phase. Adam Tucker of Zimmer Development Company says they anticipate the designs will be complete in early 2022 and permitting will be complete in the summer, allowing for construction to begin in the late summer of next year. The timeline allows for 20 to 24 months of construction time, with a goal of completion in the summer of 2024.

Current plans call for the demolition of the main library, making room for an entirely new structure. Essentially separated into three parts, the new home of the library will be combined with the Cape Fear Museum on the northern side of the block. Tucker explains this was decided so they could utilize natural light in the museum and library, as well as for safety. With plans of having school groups attend the library and museum, this design would allow school buses to park along Grace Street instead of on 3rd Street.

On the southern side of the block would be space for private development and the promised workforce housing portion of the project. The developers say they hoped to share an update on what business may be in this space, but those discussions are still taking place. They have not yet ironed out the plans for the workforce housing piece. The library-museum portion and the private development are separated by an existing parking deck.

Many called the project transformative to the downtown area, hoping to create a gathering place for people in the community. However, some people are still working to stop Project Grace and “save the main library.”

“We are saving it. We’re going to bring it back bigger, better, bolder and provide all those services that our residents need and that our students deserve,” WDI Board of Directors Chair Deb Hayes said. “We’re really bringing it forward.

“Downsizing our library from 101-plus-thousand square feet to 38-thousand square feet is not going to give the local community the kinds of options or opportunities that they would need for education or community services, any of those things,” Save Our Main Library Advocate Diana Hill said.

For more information on Project Grace, visit here. 

If you’d like to know more about the “Save Our Main Library” initiative, visit their Facebook group.

Categories: Local, New Hanover, New Hanover, Top Stories