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M A G A Z I N E

HOUSING DOWN T OWN

UP

ON THE

RIVER PLACE UNDER CONSTRUCTION WITH EAST WEST PARTNERS’ LUCIEN ELLISON

LOCAL LUXURY MARKET PROSPERS

THIS YEAR’S REAL ESTATE TRENDS

Published by

Greater Wilmington

BUSINESS JOURNAL

SPRING 2020


1035 Ocean Ridge Drive - Landfall - $4,475,000

“Three Bridges” Landfall’s most spectacular waterfront property consists of 2 1/2 lots overlooking the intracoastal waterway with distant views of Wrightsville Beach, Figure 8 Island, and the Atlantic Ocean!

2032 Scrimshaw Place - Landfall - $1,395,000

Located on a cul-de-sac overlooking the fish hole of Jack Nicklaus’ Pines Course, this exquisite brick and custom home features 6400 square feet of old world character.

Summer Rest Estates - Summer Rest Road - $1,050,000 to 3,150,000

Four estate homesites at the foot of the Wrightsville Beach bridge with a 30 foot boat slip and the ability to build a generous home, pool, and guest house. Start enjoying the best life! 6 Clamdigger Point Road - Figure 8 Island - $2,750,000

19 Comber Road - Figure 8 Island - $1,750,000

Vance Young 910-232-8850 523 Causeway Dr. Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480 https://vanceyoung.intracoastalrealty.com/


WILMINGTON CAPE FEAR HOME BUILDERS

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REALTORS® stop at nothing for a home that means everything.

We Are Cape Fear REALTORS®

Find a local REALTOR® www.CapeFear.REALTOR 1826 Sir Tyler Drive, Suite 100, Wilmington, NC 28405 Phone: 910.762.7400 | Fax: 910.762.9860


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D E PA R T M E N T S

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR SOUND OFF BEHIND THE NUMBERS THE DIGEST THE TAKEAWAY

F E AT U R E S

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COVER STORY: DOUBLING DOWNTON RITZY REBOUND IN PROFILE: KEITH WALKER REAL ESTATE TRENDS IN PROFILE: CINDEE WOLF MARKET SNAPSHOT

ON THE COVER

30 PHOTO BY T.J. DRECHSEL

Lucien Ellison, senior managing partner of East West Partners, stands on the pedestrian bridge under construction at River Place, an $80 million mixed-use building. River Place is one of several projects underway in downtown Wilmington that will significantly increase the amount of housing there.

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

P L A C E S FOR YOUR STUFF T O LIVE

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or 10 years, my Aunt Paulette, may she rest in peace, paid for two storage units full of furniture and other items she didn’t want to part with after moving to an assisted living facility. A quick estimate: She paid at least $10,000 in storage fees for things she never even looked at again after they were tucked away in the units. Whenever a story about a self-storage project pops up in the Wilmington area, some residents ask, “Do we really need another storage facility in this town?” Just as the Wilmington area needs more housing to meet the needs of a population that isn’t expected to stop growing any time soon, those folks also want places for their stuff to live. Most people have too much stuff, if selfstorage trends are any indication. Full disclosure: I have way too much stuff but do not have a selfstorage unit, hence the need to step over piles of books and clothes and other objects at times in my messy house. My youngest daughter, 11, subscribes to the Marie Kondo method having something to do with stuff sparking joy and only having 30 books max (pfffft), and I find myself passing along clothing and accessories to other mothers and thrift stores on a regular basis as a result. She’d rather get rid of a piece of clothing or item than throw it in the attic just in case (in case of what, I don’t know) like I might do. Granted, some people use storage units for reasons that make more sense: They need their

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furniture later when construction on their new house is finished or when their existing house has flooded, say, during a hurricane, and is in need of repair. But whatever the reason for the demand, the storage industry is growing. According to OrbisResearch, the global selfstorage market was valued at $87.6 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach a value of more than $115 billion by 2025. So it’s not as if Wilmington is alone in the self-storage industry boom. People’s stuff will be moving here as long as people do.

CECE NUNN , ASSISTANT EDITOR/REAL ESTATE REPORTER cnunn@wilmingtonbiz.com


Wilmington B iz

CONTRIBUTORS

M A G A Z I N E

2 0 2 0 R E A L E S TAT E I S S U E – $ 4 . 9 5

Publisher Rob Kaiser

T. J . DRECHSEL

rkaiser@wilmingtonbiz.com

President

Robert Preville

rpreville@wilmingtonbiz.com

A s s o c i at e P u b l i s h e r Judy Budd

jbudd@wilmingtonbiz.com

Editor

Vicky Janowski

vjanowski@wilmingtonbiz.com

T.J. DRECHSEL of Drechsel Photography is a Wilmington-based photographer whose work has been featured in national magazines and WILMA, Greater Wilmington Business Journal, Wrightsville Beach Magazine, and North Brunswick Magazine. He specializes in wedding and landscape photography. Drechsel photographed the cover and “Doubling Downtown” on PAGE 12. tjdrechselphotography.com

A s s i s ta n t E d i t o r Cece Nunn

cnunn@wilmingtonbiz.com

Reporters

D A V I D W. FREDERIKSEN

Johanna Cano

jcano@wilmingtonbiz.com

Christina Haley O'Neal

chaley@wilmingtonbiz.com

VP of Sales/Business Development Melissa Pressley

mpressley@wilmingtonbiz.com

Senior Account Executive Craig Snow

csnow@wilmingtonbiz.com

Account Executives Meghan Adams

DAVID W. FREDERIKSEN is a Wilmington-based freelance writer, with a background in marketing and public relations. In 2012 he and others launched the region’s first men’s lifestyle magazine, where he served in a variety of creative and business roles. His most successful launch, however, has always been his wife and three daughters. He is currently at work on his first novel. He details the rise of housing units in downtown Wilmington in “Doubling Downtown” on PAGE 12.

madams@wilmingtonbiz.com

Ali Buckley

abuckley@wilmingtonbiz.com

Brittney Keen

bkeen@wilmingtonbiz.com

K Y L E HANLIN

Business Manager Nancy Proper

nproper@wilmingtonbiz.com

Events Director Maggi Apel

mapel@wilmingtonbiz.com

E v e n t s / D i g i ta l A s s i s ta n t Elizabeth Stelzenmuller estelz@wilmingtonbiz.com

D e s i g n & M e d i a C o o r d i nat o r

KYLE HANLIN relocated to Wilmington in 2017 after 17 years in communications and team operations with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. He is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill’s journalism school, and owns and operates Envision Communications, as well as Team Travel Pros. Hanlin takes a look at the highend real estate market for “Luxe to the Max” (PAGE 18).

Molly Jacques

production@wilmingtonbiz.com

C o n t e n t M a r k e t i n g C o o r d i nat o r Morgan Mattox

MICHAEL CLINE SPENCER

mmattox@wilmingtonbiz.com

Contributing Designer Suzi Drake

art@wilmingtonbiz.com

C o n t r i b u t i n g P h o t o g r ap h e r s Megan Deitz, T.J. Drechsel, Michael Cline Spencer, Terah Wilson

Subscribe

To subscribe to WilmingtonBiz Magazine,visit wilmingtonbiz.com/subscribe or call 343-8600 x201. © 2020 SAJ Media LLC w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

MICHAEL CLINE SPENCER, owner of Michael Cline Photography, is a Wilmington-based freelance photojournalist with over 15 years’ experience working at several prominent North Carolina newspapers. He specializes in corporate, editorial, pet and wedding photography. Spencer photographed portraits of this issue’s profile subjects: Keith Walker (PAGE 26) and Cindee Wolf (PAGE 30) as well as Jenny Mizelle and Ken Dull on the commercial real estate side of the magazine. michaelclinephoto.com 2 0 2 0

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10th Anniversary Raise the Roof

Ritz on the River Masquerade Gala June 5, 2020

Live Music Silent Auction Diamond Raffles

Masquerade Masks & Cocktail Attire Encouraged!

Proceeds support homeowners still recovering from Hurricane Florence & protects affordable housing!

Tickets & Info: www.warmraisetheroof.org 6

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BizBites SOUND OFF |

BEHIND THE NUMBERS

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THE DIGEST

GUEST NEST Charles Robbins loves trees so much, he studies them, takes

people on tours to see them and builds houses in them. One of the tree houses he built, The Robbin’s Nest on Middle Sound Loop Road, is for rent on Airbnb. It stays booked mid-March through mid-November, Robbins said. “It just snowballed,” Robbins said of the tree house’s popularity from the time it was put online about two-and-a-half years ago. “I was so surprised.” photo by TERAH WILSON

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SOUND OFF

BizBites

RETHINKING SOCIAL IMPACT

A

MOVEMENT IS BUILDING IN WILMINGTON. A MOVEMENT THAT BRINGS EQUITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION FROM A DISTANTLY PERCEIVED VALUE, A “NICE TO HAVE,” A “SURE, SOMEDAY,” TO SOMETHING THAT WE DO NOW, SOMETHING THAT WE LIVE DAILY.

But to operationalize this transformation, to solidify it in the fabric of our society so that generations to come may benefit from its embrace, we must think differently about systemic change. Albert Einstein said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved with the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” Put simply, what got us here will not get us there. And ours is a past we shouldn’t embrace as a blueprint for the future but rather a lesson in what happens when finite outlooks suffocate the equitable potential and possibility of the infinite mindset, of a world built for the next generation and for all people. We need to build a new system to break the old one. But the outcome of this process cannot be transitional change but rather generational change. We must realize that this new approach is not just a way of thinking or doing, but a new way of being, of existing, of infinitely operating to further social, economic and health transformation.

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PATRICK BRIEN And because we’re looking at generational durations and not general elections or annual campaigns, the priority of thorough data collection, storytelling and the construction of a common language are of the greatest priority. We must believe in it and we must demonstrate the resiliency required to see it through. So how do we do that? The idea for the Cape Fear Collective was inspired by the unity displayed throughout the community as it came together to rebuild after Hurricane Florence. We saw the power of the region when it united for a common goal. If we can rebound from a devastating storm, together we can break down some of the systemic inequalities facing our neighbors. CFC is an effort to harness that resiliency, strength and collaboration, and operationalize it in an equitable and innovative way. The first step is to listen, to bear witness, to learn and to leverage every available resource and advantage. For the Cape Fear Collective, that means utilizing cutting-edge technology to establish a publicly accessible data platform that shows the health, economic, environmental and housing issues facing our community so that we can build a true understanding of the symptoms we face. By taking outdated public metrics, breaking down their methodologies and leveraging community

M A G A Z I N E

partners from across the county, we will use locally available data to bring each metric up to real time. With real-time data, we can spend less time being ambiguously right and more time being precisely wrong. We can fail fast and track impact. Once we have an accurate and current snapshot of what ails our community, we must understand how we’re organized to treat those symptoms. There are over 1,100 registered nonprofits in New Hanover County, and we’re going to interview every single one of them to create a social impact network analysis that provides insights into resource ratios, gaps in services and opportunities for growth. This mapping is a critical component of understanding how we’re organized in the current system and sheds light on opportunities for organizational realignment. And then, to honor both the data and the person or organization each statistic represents, we will fill in the spaces between the numbers with stories of resiliency and the challenges our community faces through our Collective Voice platform. No one joins a movement because of a statistic. Movements are created by people, for people. Once we have the data, both the quantitative and the lived experience, we bring it back to the community to start a conversation about the soul of our region, cherishing the decades of heart and sweat equity that have come before us, laying bare the outcomes of our darker and more sinister chapters and building a movement to an equitable future for all people. Improving a system is not about


BizBites

CROWDSOURCING REACTIONS, OPINIONS AND QUOTABLES FROM OUR ONLINE SOUNDING BOARDS

O N FA C E B O O K . C O M / W I L M I N GT O N B I Z

SPARK

NO

YES NO

WHAT’S YOUR IMPRESSION OF THE LOCAL JOB MARKET IN THE PAST FEW YEARS? SEEMS TO BE UNCHANGED

SEEMS TO BE FEWER JOBS

31%

SEEMS TO BE MORE JOBS

31%

38%

W I L M I N GT O N B I Z . C O M

SOUND BITES “WE’VE KIND OF BEEN BUILDING UP to it. We always say that usually during the holidays we anticipate it’s going to slow down a little bit, but this year it didn’t.” – CAPE FEAR REALTORS PRESIDENT TONY HARRINGTON

“WHILE BRUNSWICK COUNTY’S real estate market has been consistently strong over the past couple of years, I was caught off guard by January’s sharp increases in homes sold and sales volume.” – BRUNSWICK COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF REALTOR CEO CYNTHIA WALSH, BOTH ON A SPIKE IN HOME SALES IN JANUARY COMPARED TO A YEAR EARLIER

S PA R K IDEAS

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Greater Wilmington Business Journal and WilmingtonBiz Magazine publish a regular series of op-eds about ideas for sparking economic growth in the region. If you have a column topic to be considered, email editor@wilmingtonbiz.com.

YES

T W I T T E R P O L L : @ W I L M I N GT O N B I Z

Patrick Brien is CEO of the Cape Fear Collective, a social impact organization based in Wilmington. Prior to his work with CFC, Brien served as the director of strategy for the University of Global Health Equity, a new health sciences university in Rwanda. Brien began his career in the U.S. Army where he spent a decade leading units in combat operations in Afghanistan.

2020

PLAN TO BUY A HOME THIS YEAR?

ye s

PLAN TO LIST YOUR HOME FOR SALE THIS YEAR?

ye s

optimizing the actors. In most cases, they are achieving amazing results on limited resources and amid extremely difficult conditions. True systems improvement is achieved through strengthening the relationships and connective tissues between those actors and building an operational infrastructure that supports the development of a shared consciousness, a shared understanding of the ecosystem and our function in it so that each actor can flourish in their role as a change agent. Let’s build a new town square where members of our community can redefine how we approach social progress and start shaping our future. A future where everyone has a chance to thrive and prosper. These are lofty goals. It won’t come fast or easy. It’s going to take a thousand little victories. We need your help. Join us.

“I THINK THERE’S A LOT OF TOWNHOMES being built that are being built because that’s the only way that makes sense to develop the land because the land’s so expensive. There’s certainly a segment of the market that’s coming in for it (including retirees). They don’t want upstairs; they don’t want yards.” – BUDDY BLAKE, REALTOR AND FOUNDER OF WILMINGTON-BASED WAYPOST REALTY, ON THE RECENT RISE OF TOWNHOME DEVELOPMENTS IN THE AREA SIGN UP FOR DAILY NEWS UPDATES AND SUBSCRIBE TO THE GREATER WILMINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL AT WILMINGTONBIZ.COM

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BEHIND THE

ER THEAT ONE ADMIT R TE E EA ON IT M

AD

FILM INDUSTRY PICKS UP ACTIVITY

TH

$137M

DIRECT SPENDING FROM WILMINGTON-AREA FILM PROJECTS IN 2 0 1 9

310,071 THE ATE R A D MIT ON E

NUMBERS

WILMINGTON

NUMBER OF TICKETS CFCC WILSON CENTER SOLD 2015-19

SOUTHEASTERN NC

BY CHRISTINA HALEY O’NEAL

MEDIAN RENT PRICES

TWO PILOT FILM PROJECTS ROLLED INTO THE PORT CITY early this year.

$1,000

Griffin said he could not disclose details about the timing of the projects or when they will begin filming. The Lost Boys is a new pilot order by CW for a series based on a 1987 vampire horror movie. Rumors of the project coming to Wilmington started last year. And This Country is a Fox pilot order based on a BBC series, according to DEADLINE, which reported the show is being co-produced by Lionsgate Entertainment Co., Fox Entertainment Group, BBC Studios and Feigco Entertainment. The projects are the first signs of film activity this year for the Wilmington area, which racked up nearly $137 million in direct spending by film and TV productions in 2019. The state overall had $167 million in direct spending last year from film projects. It was the most spending reported in the past five years in the Port City and the state. Local film industry leaders are also waiting on word of a second season for Hulu’s Reprisal, which filmed its first season in Wilmington last year after rolling cameras on its pilot here in 2018. Griffin, who made a marketing and sales trip to Los Angeles at the end of January, said he met with officials from A&E Networks, the production company for Reprisal, and Hulu, the show’s distributor, and was “told they are expecting an answer within the next two months,” he said. “During our meetings in LA, clients expressed strong interest in North Carolina, and there are several projects being developed with interest in North Carolina,” Griffin said. “Strength of local crew, availability of stage space and availability of incentive funding are currently driving this interest.”

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$895

$400 $200

PENDER

$600 BRUNSWICK

“Pre-production basically means they are in the process of opening offices, hiring crew, determining if there are any sets that need to be built … getting everything prepared so they can go to camera,” Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission, said in mid-February.

$903

$800 NEW HANOVER

The CW’s television pilot The Lost Boys and a pilot order by Fox called This Country, were listed in February on the Wilmington Regional Film Commission’s website in pre-production.

$978

(2018)

31.2%

WILMINGTON MSA

INCREASE IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY JOB POSTINGS IN 2019 OVER 2018

BRUNSWICK COUNTY

$1.42B 2019 HOUSING SALES VOLUME

Sources: CFCC Wilson Center, N.C. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census, NC Tech Association, Brunswick Association of Realtors


BizBites

A R O U N DU P O F R E C E N T R E S IDE N T IA L R E A L E STAT E NE WS

Crews are working on a 250-unit apartment complex at Riverlights, what will be the first multifamily project of its size at the 1,400-acre master planned development. Late last year, Virginia-based Middleburg Communities bought property in Riverlights to build Mosby at Riverlights, a Class A apartment community at 4027 Watercraft Ferry Ave., according to a news release. Middleburg Communities, a real estate investment, development, construction and management firm, bought the site for $4 million. The property is steps from the Cape Fear riverfront in Riverlights, which is under development by Newland. “Mosby at Riverlights will connect its residents directly to the riverfront and Riverlights’ amenity-rich Marina Village, park and marina via pathways and boardwalks, while offering topof-the-market design and amenities in four buildings,” the release stated. Once completed, Mosby at Riverlights will be managed by Middleburg Communities. Amenities

will include a 7,500-square-foot, twolevel clubhouse, resort-style pool, dog park and pet spa, grilling stations and fire pits, walking trails connecting to Marina Village, a fitness center and more. Apartment features are expected to include stainless steel Energy Star appliances, granite countertops, luxury vinyl plank flooring, Nest thermostats and 9-foot ceilings. The release stated that Mosby at Riverlights will feature Middleburg Communities’ signature program, Local Heroes, “which respects and honors firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians and public school teachers by providing them with a rent discount at all company-owned and developed communities.” The architect of record, interior designer and landscape architect for Mosby at Riverlights is Cline Design Associates. Middleburg Construction is serving as general contractor, and McKim & Creed is providing civil engineering services.

Student housing in the Port City continues to make the grade among real estate investors. OC Ventures bought Lighthouse, a 348-bed, 124-unit luxury student housing community at 4955 Pepys Lane in Wilmington, from California-based Coastal Ridge Real Estate, according to commercial real estate firm CBRE. The price was $27 million, according to the deed recorded in New Hanover County. Built in 2014, the complex is less than two blocks from the University of North Carolina Wilmington off the intersection of South College Road and Randall Parkway.

N E W H A N O V E R CO U N T Y F O R E C LO S U R E S : 2 0 1 5 - 2 0 1 9 350 300 250 200 150 100 50

– CECE NUNN

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

TO STAY IN THE LOOP ON THE LATEST REAL ESTATE HAPPENINGS, CHECK OUT THE WEEKLY REAL ESTATE UPDATE EMAIL. SIGN UP AT WILMINGTONBIZ.COM.

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82.7%

DROP FROM 2015 TO 2019

80 43 57

APARTMENTS UNDERWAY ADD VARIETY TO RIVERLIGHTS

LUXURY STUDENT HOUSING SELLS FOR $27M

228

RENDERING C/O MIDDLEBURG COMMUNITIES

329

DIGEST THE

SOURCE: METROSTUDY, CORELOGIC

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DOUBLING DOWNTOWN BY DAVID FREDERIKSEN

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P H O T O S B Y T. J . D R E C H S E L

MORE HOUSING USHERS IN THE NEXT REVITALIZATION WAVE

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ith new construction and development nearly ubiquitous in downtown Wilmington in recent years, residents old and new are flocking to the Port City’s urban core, according to city officials and local real estate professionals. Multi-pronged and hardly accidental, the surge can be traced in part to a municipal development plan drafted more than two decades ago. “The key public policy guidance

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for the downtown renaissance dates back to a series of public meetings in 2004 and before that to the city’s 1997 Vision 2020 Plan,” said Ed Wolverton, president and CEO of the nonprofit Wilmington Downtown Inc. (WDI). “Part of that plan was to add more downtown residences, and we’ve been really successful doing that.” Bannerman Station. Brooklyn Building. Modern Baking Co. The Weldon building. They’re just a few of downtown’s early, pre-Great Recession condo and apartment developments that paved the way for more recent

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developments, including Sawmill Point, Pier 33, Flats on Front and the mixeduse behemoth River Place. “These projects have translated to a dramatic uptick in residents in the last five years,” Wolverton said. Downtown’s residential base – defined as people living from “bridge to bridge” roughly between Fifth Avenue and the river – is estimated at about 3,000, said Wolverton, a number that’s been fairly static until recently. “But with what’s in the pipeline in terms of new residential projects, we’re poised to add another 3,000, doubling


Lucien Ellison stands on the pedestrian bridge of River Place, a 13-story mixed-use redevelopment project under construction in downtown Wilmington. Ellison is the Wilmington-based senior managing partner for East West Partners, the Chapel Hill firm that has worked with the city of Wilmington to create River Place.

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MAJOR DOWNTOWN PROJECTS AND HOUSING:

If the number of residential units under construction in downtown Wilmington (shown in an aerial photo illustration) and those that have been proposed come to fruition, the population of the area below will double.

RIVERPLACE 170 UNITS

PPD HQ

Port City Marina

THE FLATS ON FRONT

PIER 33 APARTMENTS

278 UNITS

Proposed North Waterfront Park

286 UNITS

Sawmill Point

the number of residents downtown,” he said. “More people living downtown will make it a true 24-hour center.” Helping drive that effort is mixed-use development, or buildings and communities that blend retail, residential and commercial spaces, something that was also part of the Vision 2020 plan. “Retail follows rooftops,” said Natalie English, president and CEO of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce. “Access to nearby goods and services and the ability to work, live and play in a pedestrian-friendly, urban environment is what these residents are looking for and what will make them invest.” Margee Herring, public relations consultant for the mixed-use development River Place, which just began preleasing apartments, can vouch for that. The 13-story project is a publicprivate partnership between Chapel Hill-based East West Partners and the

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city of Wilmington that has replaced a defunct parking deck. “More residents means a need for more accessible and essential services and work environments,” said Herring in an email. “East West Partners’ project at 226 Front St. is a good example of what comes after the flood of new residents – flex office space, such as what’s being developed now, is more achievable when you have a tenant base that is within a desirable walking distance.” Circa Restaurant Group, Mellow Mushroom and Axis Fitness will be among River Place’s first commercial tenants. River Place isn’t the only downtown Wilmington interest for East West Partners, which is also renovating an historical building on North Front Street and hoping to redevelop the city’s northern gateway. “We really like downtown,” said Lucien Ellison, senior managing M A G A Z I N E

FILE PHOTO

This 2010 photo shows the land next to the Isabel Holmes Bridge where Sawmill Point is now.

partner for East West Partners, “and we hope to continue to be developing in this area of Wilmington for the foreseeable future.” As a longtime Wilmington resident, Herring knows well the history of downtown and its desire for transformation, including attracting more residents. “When I moved here in 1989, a 1960s-era parking deck stood where River Place is, and an industrial site stood where Pier 33 is,” Herring said, referring in the latter case to apartments


BRIDGE TO BRIDGE: NEW, UNDER CONSTRUCTION & POTENTIAL PROJECTS # OF UNITS

LOCATION

7

BLADEN & NORTH FOURTH STREETS

TRUSTHOUSE

Ed Wolverton, president and CEO of Wilmington Downtown Inc., said downtown's renaissance can be traced back to more than two decades ago when discussions began about what people wanted to see there in the future.

PIER 33 APARTMENTS

286

901 NUTT ST.

TIME

10

NORTH THIRD STREET

38

724 S. FIFTH AVE .

32

721 S. FOURTH ST.

THE PEARL

MINI PEARL

RIVER PLACE

170

WATER & GRACE STREETS

278

1045 N. FRONT ST.

THE FLATS ON FRONT

CITY BLOCK APARTMENTS II

56

310 BLADEN ST.

THE STRAND*

100

PORT CITY MARINA

196

N. FRONT & N. THIRD STREETS

110

SECOND & GRACE STREETS

250

SECOND & GRACE STREETS (COUNTY-OWNED BLOCK)

GATEWAY*

RIVERBEND*

PROJECT GRACE* NOFO LOFTS*

6

KETTLER*

276

1101 N. FOURTH ST. 19 HARNETT ST.

LET'S DO THE MATH TOTAL NEW UNITS

1,815 X 1.6 2,904 3,267

(AVG SIZE HOUSEHOLD)

POTENTIAL NEW DOWNTOWN RESIDENTS CURRENT DOWNTOWN RESIDENTS**

6,171

POSSIBLE 2024 POPULATION

SOURCE: WILMINGTON DOWNTOWN INC.

* Projects that have been publicly identified by potential developers; not currently under construction

** Current population in area from Cape Fear Memorial to Isabel Holmes bridges and Cape Fear River to Fifth Avenue, according to Esri location intelligence company

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now under construction between the Wilmington Convention Center and PPD. “… Wilmington’s waterfront has gone from industrial and ugly to pedestrian and welcoming. … But in all this development, we haven’t lost what makes our city unique. We have maintained a respect for our historic architecture, urban streetscapes and overall scale. Developers and planners have allowed downtown Wilmington to grow in a manner that respects its roots.” Places such as Mayfaire, The Pointe at Barclay and select midtown areas are successful examples of local mixed-use development, said English, emphasizing that combined retail, residential and office space shouldn’t be exclusive to downtown alone. “Mixed-use can be enjoyed by everyone,” she said. No discussion about downtown’s population growth would be complete, however, without mention of the Port City’s sizable neighbor (at 1,050 square miles) across the river, said English. “Brunswick County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation,” she said. “They’re coming, so we have to accommodate that growth.” But those residents who are here 2 0 2 0

or on the way are a little different this time around. Yes, Wilmington still attracts retirees and preretirees looking for a low-maintenance (no more yard work), amenity-filled (pools, biking and boating) and better-weather (sand over snow) lifestyle. “But the last couple of years have also seen growth in the number of young families and young professionals coming,” English said. It’s a similar sentiment shared by John Hinnant, who served as president and CEO of WDI from 2007 to 2013. “My sense is that these are upwardly mobile, young professionals …,” said Hinnant in an email. Hinnant, who now works as vice president and broker at Eastern Carolinas Commercial Real Estate, called downtown’s development and residential uptick “a welcome sight, having seen it on paper all these years in the Vision 2020 plan.” And with downtown’s new, pedestrian-friendly, amenity-laden housing certainly not cheap – a recent market analysis indicates condominium list prices from the low $200s to almost $1 million – it’ll take a young professional’s salary to pay the rent or mortgage. R

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Beer Barrio owners and downtown residents Haley Jensen and Stephen Durley walk with their son, Teddy. PHOTO BY TERAH WILSON

Which begs the question: Who gets to live downtown, and will the prospect of gentrification displace, marginalize or price out certain income groups? English said city council members and other local elected officials, in cooperation with developers and planners, are working on this and other quality of life issues. “It’s a careful balancing act,” said English, noting that areas most vulnerable to downtown gentrification would probably be above Fourth Street. “We are encouraging developers to work with and assist the city with infrastructure needs that are an inevitable part of growth, including affordable housing.” And what about other urban infrastructure needs: water, sewer, roads and parking? “City council is very keenly engaged with both the private and public sector …,” said English, to keep up with both

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economic development and population growth needs, especially transportation. “The city and county are working with transportation officials on the state level to address needs and make improvements.” The bottom line, she said: “We have to keep growing. If not, we’re dying – we have to remain attractive for jobs. If not, jobs go other places.” In its Summary of Issues section, the city’s Vision 2020 plan years ago said as much: “Despite local educational opportunities and a good quality of life, Wilmington is exporting its bright and talented youth to other metropolitan areas. This ‘brain drain’… occurs because there are not enough quality jobs.” For Hayley Jensen and her husband, Stephen Durley, owners of the Beer Barrio restaurant at the corner of North Front and Princess streets, life at northern downtown’s Sawmill Point

M A G A Z I N E

apartments with their 3-year-old is good – and convenient. “I didn’t think I’d go back to apartment living,” said the beer sommelier and one-time homeowner, “but lots of people today are renting by choice.” She cites low-or-no maintenance as one of the determining factors in her decision. Jensen said right off the bat that Sawmill’s Nutt Street location has a “very walkable feel.” Close to her place of business and overlooking the Cape Fear River, Sawmill has amenities – a pool, gym, yoga classes, even a dogwashing station, to name a few – that are hard to beat, she says. “And then there’s the River Shack,” she says, referring to the complex’s freestanding event space for socializing and entertaining. In general downtown, Jensen said one important thing was still missing: “We absolutely need a grocery.” It’s a matter of metrics, Wolverton said. “(A downtown population) upwards of 5,000 folks will attract large grocers,” he said. “And we’re just not quite there yet.” Jensen said from her Beer Barrio point of view, downtown’s new residential construction these days – “it’s literally surrounding us” – has undoubtedly led to more business, meaning more hungry stomachs and thirsty palates. “As a business owner, you just see that there’s more people (downtown),” she said. “There’s not that commitment to have to drive downtown, if you already live there.”

20 20 IN BIZ As the Business Journal marks its 20th anniversary, we look at the region’s past 20 years and its next two decades. wilmingtonbiz2020.com


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photos c/o Landmark Sotheby's International Realty

This page and opposite page: 1130 Pembroke Jones Drive, Landfall, Wilmington


LUXE to the MAX

BY KYLE HANLIN

M A RK E T FO R LUXUR Y H O M E S STAY S ST EA DY

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ore than a decade ago, the country was in the midst of the Great Recession. As is typical with economic ebbs and flows, the housing market was a key indicator, and in this instance, a major contributor to that market downturn. Sales of higher-priced homes in the Cape Fear region were no exception. “The luxury market in the Wilmington area was severely impacted by the 2008-11 recession,” said Vance Young, of Wilmingtonbased Intracoastal Realty. “We had basically a seven- or eight-year severe correction, where prices fell, on average, roughly 35%.” Now at the onset of the century’s third decade, that same housing market is delivering growth and gains from Wall Street to many towns’ Main Streets. And, like then, the Wilmington area’s luxury housing market is no exception. Young describes the current market as “very healthy.” “I deal with folks every day who are looking up and down the Eastern Seaboard, and when you compare the Wilmington market to, say, Charleston or some of the Florida markets, we’re an outstanding value,” Young said. In December, the number

of home sales with price points of more than $1 million in New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick counties was the highest since 2006, according to a report from Kathleen Baylies, broker in charge of Wilmington-based Just for Buyers Realty. The tri-county area combined to sell 19 homes above the $1 million threshold during that month, and the combinations of $1 million-plus property listings and those going under contract showed no impending slowdown. “We are seeing the success of 2019 continue,” Baylies said. “All of the factors that contributed to the success of the luxury market in 2019 are still solidly in place. So, short of some major shift, whether that be in the economy or, heaven forbid, a terrible storm season, or a change

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in interest rates, I don’t see anything that would suggest that 2020 would be any less successful than 2019.” One example of a luxury home on the market during February was the 9,700-square-foot dwelling at 1130 Pembroke Jones in Landfall, selling at a list price of $3 million. “It’s one of only 10 properties in Landfall that has its own boat slip associated with the property,” said Michael Nelson, a Realtor with Landmark Sotheby’s International Realty in Wilmington. The tri-county area’s December luxury home sales numbers included an all-time record month of five $1 million-plus sales in Pender County. To Wilmington’s north, Pender County is home to the rapidly expanding town of Hampstead, as well as Topsail Island 2 0 2 0

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521 Beach Road N, Figure Eight Island

and its towns of Topsail Beach, Surf City and North Topsail Beach. “The secret’s out relative to Topsail Island and all that it has to offer, particularly on the south end of the island,” Nelson said. “People are realizing that that area has been an undiscovered gem for a long, long time.” The same may be said for the entire region as the Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area is estimated to have grown by about 40,000 residents since 2010. And while there certainly is more overall activity in the sub-$1 million range with new construction and first- and secondtime buyers, the area’s growth and the strength of the economy have meant increases in the luxury space as well. “The rising tide, if you will, of wealth that has been created over the last few years with the recovery has lifted all boats,” Young said. “So the buyer of a nice beach house – there are many, many more of those buyers in the marketplace. And let’s say that buyer, 10 years ago, was a milliondollar buyer on Wrightsville Beach. Now they can’t get what they could have 10 years ago on Wrightsville Beach, but they can on Topsail or Carolina Beach or the Brunswick County beaches, you can still get a very nice beach house. That’s why you are seeing the spread of the buyers that are going both north and south.” In April, U.S. News & World Report ranked Brunswick County, the southernmost county in the area, fourth on a list of the 10 fastestgrowing U.S. counties. The county surpassed $1 billion in total real estate

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sales for the third-straight year in 2019, according to the Brunswick County Association of Realtors. It marked an 8% increase from 2018, a year in which the county’s home sales were 8% more than in 2017. Luxury homes in Brunswick County accounted for six of the area’s 19 luxury sales in December 2019. “I think the population growth will keep (the luxury market) strong for the foreseeable future, particularly when you look at the commercial growth,” Nelson said. “It’s just the overall economics down here and the attractive lifestyle, proximity to the coast and all that Wilmington has to offer.” Baylies, whose firm works exclusively with homebuyers, noted that the number of retirees arriving in the Wilmington area helps the success of its luxury market. “They are moving, predominantly from the mid-Atlantic states and the Northeast, wanting to make this their home,” Baylies said. “In some ways, we have replaced Florida over the last 20 years as being the retirement place because we have much more moderate weather, and we are more accessible to many of the places where people are relocating from.” But the luxury buyer is no longer automatically a relocating retiree from the Northeast. The population’s southern migration and the region’s shifting economics of recent decades have led to changes in the luxury market’s clientele. “In the last three to five years, many of my upper-end buyers have been coming from North Carolina,” M A G A Z I N E

Young said. “Many of them may have gotten indoctrinated to the area with a beach home or a condo, and now they’re getting a primary home down here. A lot of those people are coming from in the state, primarily from the Triangle; Raleigh, Cary, Durham are huge markets for us now, when it used to be the Northeast.” Like all economic trends, the upward momentum of the Wilmington area’s luxury home market will not continue forever. “There has to be a top somewhere,” Nelson said. “We went through that spell in ’04, ’05 and ’06, where everyone was all of a sudden an instant real estate millionaire, and then the rails came off in 2006. The sense of there being no top on it is an unhealthy prediction. It’s steady, slow growth at this point.” Despite the inevitable ebbs and flows of the economy, the gains of the past few years, coupled with the area’s growth, seem to indicate that the market is on more solid footing than before the Great Recession. “I suspect, in the next downturn, the upper end will be much better insulated,” Young said. “It will be affected but much less dramatically. You would be talking about a moretypical downturn of 10 or 15% in the next economic cycle. We don’t have that on the radar this year. “It’s a good time to be a buyer,” he added. “And it’s a good time to be a seller, because the buyers are now out there for the luxury property, and the prices haven’t gotten overheated. There is still good value. I think we have an outstanding year ahead of us.”


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[ Discussion Moderator ] S COT T BY E R S President and CEO Majestic Kitchen & Bath Creations

J E N N I F E R K RAN E R President Big Sky Design

S COT T L E C H T R E C K E R Owner Ocean 3 Design

C R ESS B E LL President Bell Custom Homes

C E E E DWA R D S President Markraft Cabinets

J O S H S MY T H Director of Sales

C H A R L I E T I P TO N

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A

panel from the local building and design industry got together at Oceanic on February 6 to talk about current conditions and what they see ahead. Below is an edited version of the discussion.

FIVE YEARS AGO, PEOPLE WOULD WALK INTO A DESIGN CENTER OR SHOP AND START TO INVESTIGATE. HOW HAS THAT CHANGED? CHARLIE TIPTON: They typically have a good idea of what they want from whatever source they’ve seen it on. Social media has played a huge role in that. It’s really made us step up our game as a large production builder. Our design centers have expanded dramatically to be able to try to appeal to all the different selections that are available. They’re seeing it on Instagram and other sources, and they’re walking in and saying, “This is what I want.” CRESS BELL: The resources we have now with Instagram, Pinterest and Houzz are a great starting point for home buyers to begin formulating their designs and ideas. The way I direct them is find a kitchen that speaks to you, and then let’s decipher what’s important. Our job is to support your vision, not tell you what you want to do. As a builder, we handle the complexity of building the home. The

Our job is to support your vision, not to tell you what you want to do. Cress Bell President Bell Custom Homes resources can be a little misleading, like HGTV’s $45,000 house renovation in four weeks, but overall they are a huge benefit to our industry. JENNIFER KRANER: We have a methodology when we work with our clients, but it’s almost impossible to know how somebody is going to work with you when you first meet them. One of the things that we’re trying to counter is the social media aspect. That’s one reason why we’re expanding our showroom so we have more of the physical pieces there. We are trying to put more in front of people so they can actually see and feel it.

HOW ARE STYLES AND THE SIZE OF HOMES CHANGING? SCOTT LECHTRECKER: They say they want small. They want 1,500 square feet until they realize what 1,500 square feet really is. The market for real large houses has shrunk a lot. That was 12 years ago around the recession when we were just creating rooms to create rooms. Now the trend is more smart — efficiency, livability and low maintenance. Those are things we hear day in and day out. That’s what it should be.

Now the trend is more smart - efficiency, livability and low maintenance. Scott Lechtrecker Owner Ocean 3 Design

BELL: I think the culture has changed a little bit. I was in California pre-recession, and it was, “How big can I build my house?” That was the trend – bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger. The recession changed the culture to what do you really need. Hardly any home built right now has anything

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there. People want to entertain inside and out. We’re in a spot in all of our locations where the weather lets people hang out outside and entertain most of the year. They’re asking, “How big can my island be without having a seam in the countertop?” The islands are getting bigger because they want to hang out there. BYERS: And the countertop materials are obviously apapting as well. You now have the ability to use porcelain-type products indoor and outdoor that are weather resistant.

WHAT PREDICTIONS ARE YOU WILLING TO MAKE FOR THE NEXT OR SEVERAL YEARS?

We’ve got two outdoor (cabinet) lines that we brought in ... the weather lets people enterain most of the year. Cee Edwards President Markraft Cabinets called “formal” in front of it — your formal living room, formal dining room. Also, open concept has been here and for good reason. I don’t think that will ever go away because it makes sense. You want to put the emphasis of a home where you spend your time and connect those spaces.

KRANER: What we’ve seen this year, which is really exciting, is that people are open to possibilities. I hope that this continues into the next year. They are less driven by what the trends are and more interested in the mindset of mixing styles and materials, which lets them get what they want out of their interior space. So I think that’s exciting because I think sometimes when you have parameters driven by a television show or social media, people think they have to kind of stay in that lane. But I think what we’re seeing is that possibilities are opening up. BELL: The market seems great, aside from the election,

JOSH SMYTH: I’m seeing more and more that location is dictating the budget as opposed to the size of the home dictating the budget. People will sacrifice on size and amenities to be in a certain location. I agree completely about how you want to feel in a certain space. I look at our home. We have an open concept house, and I think we’ve sat in the dining room twice. We sit around our island, which is attached to the living room. TIPTON: The other thing we’ve seen is the amount buyers are investing in the exterior, that indoor/outdoor living. We see just how significant the porches are on the front and the back and double porches and large porches and sliding doors, outdoor fireplaces and all those things. Maybe they’re willing to compromise a little bit on the heated square footage, but they’re not willing to forgo those indoor/outdoor features. SCOTT BYERS: Do you see that, Cee? Do you see more outdoor living? CEE EDWARDS: Oh yeah. We’ve got two outdoor lines that we brought in because the demand for outdoor living is

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They are less driven by what the trends are and more interested in the mindset of mixing styles and materials, which lets them get what they want out of their interior space. Jennifer Kraner President Big Sky Design


where you just don’t know what’s going to happen. Everybody tends to hit a little bit of a pause button to see what’s going to happen. But barring that and being tied to kind of an international economy, there’s no foreseeable change. And I wouldn’t mind it kind of leveling off and letting us catch up and find a nice pace. SMYTH: Here’s my bold prediction, which may be more towards year three and beyond — production built homes prebuilt in factories without having to worry about the weather or anything else so you have faster turn times and more predictability and efficiency. Then those homes being somehow purchased online, and you show up and your house is ready. TIPTON: Over the next year, we’re expecting it to be very similar to this past year. We don’t see a lot of changes in the near term. As a national builder, we’ve got a lot of competition. What’s most important for us is providing a great experience for the buyer. You have to overwhelm them with the experience. EDWARDS: The flexibility of the buyer is changing. They’re more open minded. We’re incorporating wood with white for a modern farmhouse look. I think that is going to get really popular, mixing wood grains and a smooth painted product that’s here. I think we’ll see more of that trend. And you know, the color of the year is blue for 2020. The

My bold prediction, which may be more towards year three and beyond - production built homes prebuilt in factories without having to worry about the weather. Josh Smyth Director of Sales Majestic Kitchen & Bath Creations request for navy cabinets and different shades of blue is a big deal. People are getting a little bold with colors. LECHTRECKER: I would say it’s more of a hope than a prediction that the coffered ceiling goes away. I’m tired of it. Maybe another year for the barn door. I think some design trends you see just get overdone. BYERS: I think we’re probably going to curtail our growth as an industry because of our inability to meet the demand. You’re going to see other avenues become more prevalent like apartments and renting of single-family homes because affordability is a real challenge. There’s going to be different competition for living arrangements that we must account for.

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What’s most important for us is providing a great experience for the buyer. Charlie Tipton Coastal Carolinas Division President PulteGroup

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PROFILE

HEADING

HOME BY LORI WILSON | PHOTO BY MICHAEL CLINE SPENCER

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PROFILE

FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS, KEITH WALKER HAS BEEN WORKING T O REINVENT THE STANDARD O F A F F O R DA B L E HOUSING I N N O RT H C A RO L I NA

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eith Walker– founder, president and CEO of East Carolina Community Development Inc. (ECCDI) – has called Eastern North Carolina home since 1985 when he began a career in human services. Now as the principal officer of ECCDI, he develops workforce real estate across the region, including Wilmington’s Cypress Cove near the Creekwood neighborhood. Coming from cold winters of Buffalo, New York, he started as a counselor at a small facility for at-risk youth in Newport, North Carolina. Seven years later, he became the Community Services Block Grant director at Carteret Community Action, where he managed grant utilization of the federal funds designated for lowincome persons in Beaufort and the surrounding areas. “Part of that was looking at community housing,” Walker explained. “In the late ’90s, housing in rural areas was deplorable. We were spending hundreds of dollars putting people up in substandard housing.” After successfully securing funding for a development deal in Morehead City, Walker felt called w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

to move forward with project development. “I was not just funding community action,” Walker said. “I was actually going out and working with people who were repairing ceilings and floors and commodes. It was relationship-building.” Walker saw a need, and in 1995, ECCDI incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a mission to create opportunities for residents to live in healthy, affordable homes, improve their lives and enhance their economic status. “We provide quality, affordable housing,” Walker said, “but we’re not providing public housing. Our residents pay the rent themselves … and our goal is to get them in affordable housing in areas in the east (part of the state) where land is not plentiful and is very, very expensive.” ECCDI began building in the Beaufort area, still Walker’s home base, stretching into Newport and Morehead City, then Jacksonville and now Wilmington. The local workforce housing development Cypress Cove holds 200 one-, twoand three-bedroom units. One year after its launch in late 2018, the Cypress Cove community is fully leased. Residents are screened for minimum income levels and criminal records and must maintain a good-neighbor status. ECCDI builds communities, not just housing, Walker said. “There’s a need for approximately 2,000 units of affordable housing in Wilmington,” he said. “You can build for the next 10 years and not keep up with one of the fastest-growing counties in the state … You have to have space not just for very poor and very rich housing, but also for workforce community building.” Walker explained how the landscape – physically and financially – differs from when ECCDI started 25 years ago. For example, today more people working in the city are forced to buy housing in more rural areas. “Way back then, it was hard to find people to use the tax credit program,” he said. “You could almost give them away back then. It was still 2 0 2 0

competitive but not as competitive as today.” Along with its partners, the Wilmington Housing Authority and the city of Wilmington, ECCDI secured competitive federal tax credits and bonds to receive more than $30 million in funding for Cypress Cove. But with so little buildable land available, it also took time to find a lot for development. “Keith Walker is a visionary,” said Robert Campbell, ECCDI board chairman and senior pastor at New Beginning Christian Church in Castle Hayne. “The way he found the land to build behind Creekwood … Most of us drive by that land every day and don’t see the point. He is just what we need.” Campbell connected with Walker, who was looking for a Wilmington-based board member, when plans for Cypress Cove first began more than five years ago. “He doesn’t build cheap housing,” Campbell emphasized. “He’s building good housing that’s affordable … We’re lucky he’s looking into our area and knows how to use the tax credits and to help people in need.” Since its inception, ECCDI has built 16 developments in Eastern North Carolina, housing more than 1,300 individuals among 935 units, including special needs and veterans housing. Walker has also raised more than $70 million for affordable housing and has overseen more than $13 million in loan programs. This year, he’s working with Campbell and New Beginning Christian Church to secure plans for their next development project – a 68-unit pinwheel-design senior living facility in Castle Hayne. Walker is encouraged by the support of New Hanover Countyarea agencies and looks forward to future development in the Wilmington area. “If you look at it from a financial standpoint and where people are putting their dollars,” he said, “you see that ECCDI put millions of dollars in the Creekwood area. The town’s put money into it … I see that as a positive change.” R

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he Wilmington area remains a popular place for people to live, with retirees still coming and a mix of other demographics discovering the Cape Fear coast. Local housing trends follow the popularity of the region, which has been on the rise for decades, and recent statistics show the sales of homes outpacing last year even in slower months. BY CECE NUNN

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MILLENNIALS IN THE HOUSING MARKET

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Those born between about 1981 and 1996 have been becoming homebuyers at an increasing rate in recent years, and Realtors are taking notice. That generation, the millennials, made up the largest share of homebuyers at 37%, according to a 2019 National Association of Realtors (NAR) report. The report showed that 86% of younger millennials (ages 21 to 28) and 52% of older millennials (ages 29 to 38) who bought housing were first-time homebuyers, more than other age groups. In some cases, said Tony Harrington, president of the Wilmington-based Realtors association, Cape Fear Realtors, millennials have at times been “very reticent to jump into the housing market. There’s still a lot of that generation living at home, but I think they’re starting to see the value of homeownership.” In a February news release, Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said, “The rise in the homeownership rate among the younger adults, under 35, and minority households means an increasing number of Americans can build wealth by owning real estate.”

M A G A Z I N E

Residential real estate firms in the Wilmington area and beyond continue to grow, with one of the most recent announcements coming in February. Wilmington-based Intracoastal Realty Corp. announced Feb. 18 that the firm was buying Bald Head Island Limited LLC businesses, including its residential real estate brokerage sales and vacation rental-property management. “Intracoastal Realty’s expanded presence on Bald Head Island creates a sustainable third-party residential real estate brokerage sales and vacation rental-property management platform positioned for growth,” said Chad Paul, CEO for Bald Head Island Limited LLC, in the announcement. Earlier in February, Realtors announced that Lanier Property Group, a boutique firm in midtown Wilmington, had merged with Intracoastal Realty. The merger of the independent brokerages was expected to give Lanier group’s agents valuable marketing, technology and training tools. In an example from last year, Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, also based in Wilmington, announced a merger with Coldwell Banker First Realty, extending Sea Coast’s reach to Havelock, Cedar Point and surrounding areas.


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SHORT SUPPLY & HIGHER PRICES

CONDOS & TONWHOMES

BEYOND COUNTY LINES

It’s not just the Wilmington area that has a housing inventory shortage. In the U.S., total housing inventory at the end of January this year totaled 1.42 million units, up 2.2% from December, but down 10.7% from one year ago (1.59 million), according to NAR. Nationally, the housing inventory level for January was the lowest since 1999. Still, buyers are finding what is available. The number of homes sold rose by 37 percent locally in January compared to the same month in 2019. “I think we’re going to continue to see an uptick,” said Harrington in February. “As you can imagine, we’re seeing record low inventories as we go across our region. Homes in the $200,000 to $250,000 or under range are really going into multiple offers still. Buyers are having to be really on top of it with their Realtors to be able to obtain a house in that price range.” In the tri-county region in January, median sale prices continued to increase, up 7.4% over last year to $264,000. The median existing-home price for all housing types in the U.S. in January was $266,300, up 6.8% from January 2019.

Single-family homes, unattached dwellings with their own land and entrances and exits, dominate the housing sales market. But recently, condos and townhomes are gaining some momentum. Harrington said the tri-county region saw a 57% increase in the sales of townhouses and condos in January compared to the same month in 2019. “There’s a lot more opportunity now financing-wise to obtain condos than there has been in the past,” explains Harrington. That’s because the Federal Housing Administration eased condo financing regulations Oct. 15. Meanwhile, townhouses (which differ from condos in several ways, including that an owner has the structure and the land it sits on) are on the rise in the Wilmington area in terms of plans and construction. For example, at the end of February in Wilmington’s Echo Farms subdivision, the first units of a new housing development were nearing completion. Woodlands Landing Townhomes include 176 one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Rents range from $1,234 to $2,200.

As competition heats up and land becomes more expensive and scarce for homes in New Hanover County, the popularity of areas outside New Hanover, including Hampstead in Pender County, Leland and towns farther south in Brunswick and more neighboring communities, will remain on the rise. “As home choice continues to be an issue and the rents continue to increase, there will be competition across the region, especially in the first-time buyer market,” Harrington said in a Cape Fear Realtors announcement about his 2020 presidency and the January home sale numbers for the tri-county region. “We continue to see market absorption extending further outside of the three-county region, with inventory dropping to historic lows in Pender, Duplin, Sampson and Scotland counties.” It’s a trend that extends across the U.S. when it comes to where homebuyers are looking for lower prices and more choices. “The vast majority of metro areas saw price gains and very small increases in inventory in the final quarter of 2019,” according to a quarterly report released in February by NAR.

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SPEAKING OF development

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CINDEE WOLF DIRECTS DEVELOPERS THROUGH CITY AND COUNTY R E G U L AT I O N S BY T E R E SA M C L AM B PHOTO B Y MI CHA E L C L I N E SPEN C ER

A

PROFILE

rmed with a landscape architecture degree from Penn State University, Pennsylvania native Cindee Wolf landed her first job with an engineering firm in Raleigh. “I was hired as a landscape designer, but they didn’t have a lot of work,” she recalled. “They were doing aerial photography and needed a surveyor to set up the flight lines.” Her surveying experience came into play and also helped when she made the move to Wilmington, where she ran the county’s land records office for a while. A major tie to the Wilmington area for Wolf, however, came when she represented John R. McAdams Co. in the development of Landfall. That work resulted in her 1990 move to Wilmington and creation of Design Solutions, the company she still helms. Wolf has become known as the face of developers and investors as they navigate the city and county agencies that regulate commercial and residential development. Her extensive background in land planning and development and her familiarity with the regulatory processes make her a natural go-to. She explained that when she started working in New Hanover County, it was typical for land to be zoned differently than what the developer wanted. “That’s when rezoning efforts blossomed,” she said. Because of her surveying background, she knew the nuts and bolts, so she contributed significantly to the design of projects. “Then when it had to go to the city council. I started being the mouthpiece. I’m sort of full service. That has been my value to people,” she said. While her work varies by client and project, Wolf said she generally begins as a property goes under contract. “Obviously the sale is dependent

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on this process. It generally takes four to six months. If I meet you today for your piece of land, we’re married for the next four to six months,” she said. During that time, she works with the client, their engineers, designers and others to be certain all aspects of the project meet the requirements of the city or county before it goes forward into the review and approval process. When it comes time to present to the agencies, it is Wolf, rather than the developer or engineer, who often makes the presentation and answers the questions of government officials and the public. Rules and processes for the city and county vary. Both entities require a concept plan but at different stages of development. While one is strict on one aspect, the other has different requirements. Knowledge of the intricacies of these requirements is critical to the approval process. “Traffic and stormwater are the two biggest topics of conversation we have,” Wolf said, adding that these topics often overshadow all others in public hearings. Despite attempting to slow down, Wolf continues to take projects. “I love the design part of it, but the meetings are difficult,” she acknowledged. She recalls one project many years ago in downtown where an old cemetery had been relocated from a plot being considered for housing. “The neighbors insisted there were still graves there,” Wolf said. “That hit the media, and I was a graverobber.” Sure enough, further testing revealed several unmarked graves on the site. They were disinterred and moved to Pender County. Plats of both sites were created and recorded in the counties’ registers of deeds offices. The housing was constructed without further incident. She says everything she’s working on now is controversial, something that isn’t surprising in R

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PROFILE

an area already densely populated. The current planning concept, in a city and county bordered by water, is infill, she said. “That density has to go up; it can’t spread out,” Wolf said. “Unfortunately, people don’t understand that concept. They think that will ruin what they’ve got, but there’s no evidence of that in other cities that are going through the same situation. It rejuvenates a neighborhood many times. “Old neighborhoods don’t have sidewalks, stormwater management, etc., but all this new development does.” An example is an apartment complex of 46 units proposed on 3 acres on College Acres Drive. The area is transitioning from the College Acres single-family neighborhood to student housing all around. On South Kerr and Franklin avenues a student housing complex is almost complete. Uncommon (formerly called Kerr Station Lofts) was constructed on property that used to hold small retail shops. “It’s classic reuse that’s a big success,” Wolf said. The upscale housing is a good example of a plan that was negotiated with the city, she said. A multi-use trail runs by it, providing a path to the University of North Carolina Wilmington. The complex includes apartments and townhomes, security cameras and guards, its own buses and an arrangement with the UNCW transit system. Wolf said she garners work primarily through name recognition. “People come into town and start watching the meetings on the government television channel, and I’m there on a regular basis. I’ve had a lot of referrals that way. “I’ve enjoyed my work because it’s certainly interesting,” Wolf said. “I love Wilmington. I believe in infill and the comprehensive plan and property rights, so I try to do my best to make sure it’s good development.”

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M A R K E T SNAPSHOT W I L M I N G T O N A R E A R E S I D E N T I A L R E A L E S TAT E H I G H L I G H T S

1

2

3

4

TOP10 H O M E S A L E S 0 F 2 0 1 9 1 2 3 4 5

PRICE

ADDRESS

SQ FT

$5,000,000

915 S. LUMINA AVE., WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH

5,570

$4,850,000

6

122 PARMELE BLVD., WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH

5,490

7

$4,800,000

49 PIPERS NECK ROAD, FIGURE EIGHT

6,588

7

4 BEACH ROAD SOUTH, FIGURE EIGHT

5,728

9

213 S. LUMINA AVE., WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH

5,511

10

$4,687,500 $4,085,000

PRICE

ADDRESS

SQ FT

$3,700,000

25 SOUNDS POINT ROAD, FIGURE EIGHT

4,007

14 SOUTHRIDGE ROAD, WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH

5,259

10 BANKS ROAD, FIGURE EIGHT

3,908

22 SALTMEADOW ROAD, FIGURE EIGH

5,123

6309 SEA MIST COURT, WILMINGTON

7,844

$3,675,000 $3,600,000 $3,525,000 $3,400,000

SOURCE: N.C. REGIONAL MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE

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BY VOLUME

1

SIDES*

VOLUME $

AVERAGE $

5,318.5

$1,475,780,609

$277,481

3,054

$1,127,968,288

$369,341

2,283.5

$560,480,003

$245,448

CENTURY 21 SWEYER & ASSOCIATES

1,733

$370,551,909

$213,821

RE/MAX ESSENTIAL

1,083

$278,813,811

$257,446

BLUECOAST REALTY CORP.

743.5

$207,994,044

$279,750

LANDMARK SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL REALTY

311.5

$184,863,115

$593,461

MARGARET RUDD & ASSOCIATES

497.5

$118,340,565

$237,870

365

$112,039,666

$306,958

378.5

$104,926,584

$277,217

RE/MAX AT THE BEACH

425

$102,095,943

$240,226

ST. JAMES PROPERTIES LLC

372

$97,299,139

$261,557

327.5

$80,927,895

$247,108

321

$80,716,126

$251,452

252

$71,761,331

$284,767

COLDWELL BANKER SEA COAST ADVANTAGE

2

INTRACOASTAL REALTY CORP.

3 4

KELLER WILLIAMS - WILMINGTON

5 6 7 8

TOP15

RESIDENTIAL

REAL ESTATE FIRMS

MARKET SNAPSHOT

9

NEST REALTY

10

BRUNSWICK FOREST REALTY LLC

11 12 13

COASTAL PROPERTIES

14

COLDWELL BANKER SLOANE

15

COASTAL REALTY ASSOCIATES

SOURCE: N.C. REGIONAL MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE FOR NEW HANOVER, BRUNSWICK AND PENDER COUNTIES IN 2019

* SIDES COUNT THE BUYING OR SELLING SIDE OF A REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION

CL

OS

CL ED

6114 Chilcot Lane, Wilmington | $471,000 4,828 SF 6 BED / 5 BATH CL

OS

CL

BROKER, REALTOR®

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OS

ED

2004 Seawind Lane, Wilmington | $1,065,000 6,667 SF 4 BED / 6 BATH CL

ED

405 Highgreen Drive, Wilmington | $402,000 2,275 SF 4 BED / 4 BATH

CHRISTA PREVILLE 34

OS

CL

ED

6025 Old Military Road, Wilmington | $511,875 3,905 SF 4 BED / 4 BATH

ED

1512 Grandiflora Drive, Leland | $390,600 2,868 SF 4 BED / 3 BATH

OS

2972 Pullen 4 BED / 5 BATH

(910) 297-2623 Christa@WilmingtonNCHomes.com www.ChristasHomes.com

Drive,

Leland

|

OS

ED

$399,900 3,196 SF


TOP15

MARKET SNAPSHOT

AGENTS in 2019 BY VOLUME for

NEW HANOVER, BRUNSWICK & PENDER COUNTIES SIDES*

1

KEITH BEATTY

357.5

INTRACOASTAL REALTY CORP.

2

VANCE YOUNG

168

INTRACOASTAL REALTY CORP.

3

JERRY HELMS

366

BRUNSWICK FOREST REALTY LLC

TEAM KBT REALTY,

4

KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY

5

INTRACOASTAL REALTY CORP.

THE RISING TIDE TEAM,

VOLUME $

$121,749,763

$105,731,315

$101,341,946

SIDES

VOLUME $

6

KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY-OKI BRUNSWICK

HANK TROSCIANIEC & ASSOCIATES,

217

$53,120,895

7

TEAM HARDEE HUNT & WILLIAMS

57

$51,389,850

8

INTRACOASTAL REALTY CORP.

71

$51,045,075

115

$50,039,519

167

$49,289,154

189

$47,251,101

55.5

$45,231,990

KIM S. ANDERSON,

232

$42,988,871

9

BUZZY NORTHEN,

CARLA D. LEWIS,

INTRACOASTAL REALTY CORP.

10

DOMIN & SCHWARTZ REAL ESTATE GROUP, COLDWELL BANKER SEA COAST ADV. - MIDTOWN

11

WAYPOST REALTY LLC

12 13

BUDDY BLAKE

NICK PHILLIPS, LANDMARK SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL REALTY

ART SKIPPER REALTY INC.

218.5

$54,224,330

14

SHAWN C. HORTON, COLDWELL BANKER

109

$42,656,484

165.5

$53,541,653

15

JESSICA EDWARDS TEAM, COLDWELL

71

$38,823,015

SEA COAST ADVANTAGE-LELAND

BANKER SEA COAST ADVANTAGE

* SIDES COUNT THE BUYING OR SELLING SIDE OF A REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION

SOURCE: N.C. REGIONAL MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE

SIEGEL & RHODENHISER, PLLC ATTORNEYS AT LAW

NEW LOCATION

1055 Military Cutoff Road, Suite 201 Wilmington, NC 28405

910.256.2292 WWW.COASTALLAWYER.NET

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STEVEN F. SIEGEL

RYAN T. RHODENHISER

ATTORNEYS WITH 55 YEARS COMBINED EXPERIENCE IN REAL ESTATE, BUSINESS, AND ESTATE PLANNING LAW.

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TOP20

2019

MARKET SNAPSHOT

1 2

CLOSINGS

471

AVERAGE PRICE

RESIDENTIAL BUILDERS BY CLOSINGS CLOSINGS

8

D.R. HORTON

H & H HOMES INC. 85 $312,517 CENTURY COMMUNITIES

16

10

79 $178,424 TRUSST BUILDERS INC. (NC)

17

11

68 $190,500 HARDISON BUILDING CO.

3

224 $331,241 A. SYDES CONSTRUCTION

4

205 $246,917 ATLANTIC CONSTRUCTION

5

186 $203,309 STEVENS FINE HOMES

11

6

140 $277,025 LOGAN HOMES INC.

7

108 $402,847 THE PULTE GROUP

62 $317,048 13 CAVINESS AND CATES COMMUNITIES

89

15

9

$237,885

BILL CLARK HOMES

CLOSINGS

AVERAGE PRICE

14

62

$328,661 MCKEE HOMES

60 $291,658 HUNTER DEVELOPMENT CORP. 53

$374,669

$186,821

AVERAGE PRICE

ICG HOMES 51

$238,873 TRUE HOMES

48 $281,728 HORIZONS EAST BUILDING CO. 47

$217,638

18 CLAYTON PROPERTIES GROUP INC. 19

45 $333,722 AMERICAN HOMESMITH 43

$323,465

41

$285,232

20 SOUTHERN HOMEBUILDERS INC. SOURCE: METROSTUDY, A HANLEY WOOD COMPANY, BASED ON RECORDED CLOSINGS IN PENDER, BRUNSWICK, ONSLOW AND NEW HANOVER COUNTIES, BUT NOT INCLUDING CLOSINGS UNDER ASSUMED NAMES, SPECIAL ENTITIES OR LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANIES WITH DIFFERENT NAMES

We all have neighbors. Our firm represents condominium and homeowners’ associations in North Carolina, as well as the individuals that live in them. Our lawyers are experienced in guiding associations or their residents through legal transactions and various disputes that arise regularly in the operation of these communities. Whether you’re purchasing or selling property, interpreting community association requirements, or dealing with construction issues, Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed is ready and able to help. C

Family Law | Estate Planning | Business Law | Property Transactions

OWNERS’ ASSOCIATIONS

Mediation & Arbitration

A Tradition of Integrity, Quality & Value 910-763-2727 | www.bcklawfirm.com 310 North Front Street, Suite 200 | Wilmington, NC 28401

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THE TAKEAWAY

HOUSE FLOATS photo by MEGAN DEITZ

The Strands could potentially hold about 80 houseboats, a neighborhood of floating abodes at Port City Marina. A one-bedroom model home (above), staged by Ethan Allen, is already open for tours. A second house, a two-bedroom, is under construction, and both versions are beginning to be sold, said Dan Rambadt,

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director of business development/sales for Atlantic Houseboats. He said the plan is for the houses to take up two docks, with pocket parks at the end of each on the Cape Fear River side. The one-bedroom homes are 616 square feet and start at $279,900, and the two-bedroom models are 1,102 square feet and start at $319,900.

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Profile for WilmBiz

WilmingtonBiz Magazine - 2020 Residential Real Estate  

WilmingtonBiz Magazine's quarterly business news publication, with a special focus on Southeastern NC's residential real estate industry

WilmingtonBiz Magazine - 2020 Residential Real Estate  

WilmingtonBiz Magazine's quarterly business news publication, with a special focus on Southeastern NC's residential real estate industry

Profile for wilmbiz

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