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zoom town REMOTE WORKERS DRIVE AN INFLUX OF NEW RESIDENTS

AT HOME ON FIGURE EIGHT ISLAND

SPRING 2021

Published by

Greater Wilmington

BUSINESS JOURNAL

REAL ESTATE MARKET SNAPSHOT


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

F E AT U R E S

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COVER STORY: WILMINGTON GOTHIC ESCAPE TO FIGURE EIGHT NO WAY HOME? IN PROFILE: EDEN VILLAGE REAL ESTATE TRENDS IN PROFILE: DEB HAYS MARKET SNAPSHOT

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

just how much is a home w o r t h ?

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ecently, we received the latest tax assessment for our house in Hanover Heights, an aging Wilmington neighborhood (our house was built in 1958) of mostly small ranch houses that used to be in a highly sought-after price range. But those prices are going up, up and up, even for the smallest of houses. New Hanover County’s website explains the reassessment process in-depth, saying, “North Carolina law requires each county to conduct a revaluation at least once every eight years. New Hanover County has implemented a fouryear plan for its revaluation programs to better reflect changes in market conditions that exist in the county. This process will help ensure that taxpayers are paying appropriate taxes for property, based on the changing property values that occur during periods of growth or economic downturn.” But what does it all mean for prices if someone wants to sell their house? Tony Harrington, a broker and appraiser who owns Wilmington-based The Property Shop International Realty, said tax assessments don’t necessarily correlate with the market value of the properties in the region. “Sometimes it does; sometimes it doesn’t,” he said. For those who don’t believe their assessment is correct, there’s an appeal process outlined on the county’s website. “I’ve had several people call me recently saying they want to use an older appraisal within six months to support what they feel like, from a homeowner’s perspective, their house is worth,” Harrington said. “Old appraisals are not going to work; you’re going to have to have a more current

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appraisal to be able to counter the county on a reassessment.” The value of a house can be an emotional one. My house only has one bathroom for four people and could use a lot of work, but the memories that have been made here are priceless. Not to mention the fact that even if I sold my house, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find something in my price range. That challenge is noted in an article on affordable housing in this year’s real estate magazine (page 25) and in an article on the influx of new residents in the area (page 14). With the pandemic keeping some people at home for so many months, I can see how residents might get tired of the houses they have. For me, though, for now, my house isn’t perfect, but it’s home.

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


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CONTRIBUTORS

M A G A Z I N E

2 0 2 1 R E A L E S TAT E I S S U E – $ 4 . 9 5

Publisher Rob Kaiser

J E N N Y CALLISON

rkaiser@wilmingtonbiz.com

President

Robert Preville rpreville@wilmingtonbiz.com

Editor

Vicky Janowski vjanowski@wilmingtonbiz.com

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

JENNY CALLISON is a former Greater Wilmington Business Journal reporter who continues as a freelancer with the Business Journal and WILMA. Before moving to Wilmington in 2011, she was a university communications director and a freelance reporter covering a variety of beats. Callison wrote “No Way Home?,” a look at local affordable housing issues, on PAGE 25.

cnunn@wilmingtonbiz.com

Reporters Johanna Cano

jcano@wilmingtonbiz.com

N E I L COTIAUX

Christina Haley O'Neal chaley@wilmingtonbiz.com

Vice President

of

Maggi Apel

Sales

mapel@wilmingtonbiz.com

Senior Account Executive Craig Snow

csnow@wilmingtonbiz.com

Account Executives

NEIL COTIAUX is a freelance journalist who has written for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal since 2013. His work has also appeared in various other publications and digital sites around the Southeast. He received his B.S. in political science from Ithaca College and his J.D. from the University of Richmond. Cotiaux wrote about the influx of new residents for “Wilmington Gothic” on PAGE 14.

Courtney Barden

cbarden@wilmingtonbiz.com

Ali Buckley abuckley@wilmingtonbiz.com

Marian Welsh

K E V I N KLEITCHES

mwelsh@wilmingtonbiz.com

O f f i c e & A u d i e n c e D e v e l o p m e n t M a nag e r Sandy Johnson

sjohnson@wilmingtonbiz.com

E v e n t s / D i g i ta l C o o r d i nat o r Elizabeth Stelzenmuller

events@wilmingtonbiz.com

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

KEVIN KLEITCHES is a portrait and commercial photographer and personal branding consultant based in Wilmington. Kleitches shot “Escape to Figure Eight” around Figure Eight Island on PAGE 18 and “Film Credit,” The Takeaway photo in the commercial real estate section. kevintitusphoto.com.

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

BRIANNE WRIGHT

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

Aris Harding, Kevin Kleitches, Terah Wilson

Subscribe

To subscribe to WilmingtonBiz Magazine,visit wilmingtonbiz.com/subscribe or call 343-8600 x201. © 2021 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

BRIANNE WRIGHT, a homegrown Wilmingtonian, is a sign artist, designer and illustrator whose work has been featured in WILMA, the Greater Wilmington Business Journal and a number of independent art magazines around the country. She specializes in typography, high contrast design and marrying the space between modern and retro. Wright illustrated the “Zoom Town” residential real estate cover. briannewright.com 2 0 2 1

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“Southern Bank has a lot of friendly people. They are just so easy to work with.“ Tim Milam, President Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage

We’re big on small business. We help small and mid-sized businesses become bigger businesses. That’s what we do. While the mega banks focus on the mega corporations, we see the value in building our local businesses. How do we do it? With mega service. And with all the tools and expertise every business needs to succeed. Visit us in Mayfaire Office III, or give us a call and we’ll bring the bank to you.

Colleen Hattingh, Lenny Smith, Paul McCombie, Leon Pruzan Mayfaire Office III 6752 Rock Spring Rd. 910.256.3657

southernbank.com/wilmington


BizBites SOUND OFF |

BEHIND THE NUMBERS

|

THE DIGEST

LEVEL UP

Funded by $75,000 from public and private sources, Genesis Block launched its accelerator program this year to help local minority business owners. A partnership between NC IDEA and N.C. Black Entrepreneurship Council awarded a $50,000 grant to the Back on the Block Minority Accelerator, which also received $25,000 from New Hanover County. Among the businesses in the first cohort of 10 is Creators’ Print House, a largeformat digital printing company that specializes in apparel and is based on Princess Place. “We’ve been doing this for five years, and we were trying to figure out what would be our next step in terms of getting to the next level,” said Bobby Flood (right), who owns the business with Daniel Anderson (left). “Watching Genesis Block working with black entrepreneurs, it (the application) came across my newsfeed. It seemed like a great opportunity for us to learn and get a little bit of guidance to get to scale.” photo by TERAH WILSON

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SOUND OFF

BizBites

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BUILDERS MEASURE GOOD, BAD NEWS

OUR INDUSTRY RIGHT NOW COULD BE BROKEN DOWN INTO A TALE OF TWO WORLDS.

CAMERON MOORE

On one hand, we have a robust, thriving market, where houses are selling well before they are even finished. Builders are juggling more contracts than they know what to do with and are busier than ever. On the other hand, we have an industry that has been plagued with huge price increases, material shortages and time delays that are hindering the market from reaching its full potential. Overall, our industry has been blessed, though. Through heavy lobbying pressure locally, statewide and nationally, the construction industry was deemed an essential business last year. This was a tremendous, successful effort that allowed for the construction sector to remain the one bright spot within the economy. With three out of every five jobs touched by the real estate industry, it was paramount to keep this economic machine running, and run we have done. In addition to the in-migration of North Carolinians looking to make that move to the coast, we are also seeing a virus-fueled real estate boom from our Northern states. Mortgage rates have remained at historically low rates, and within the Wilmington region, sales have been good – really good. After the initial virus concerns and safety protocols became more of our everyday routine,

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and people adjusted accordingly, we saw housing stage a dramatic turnaround beginning in the spring of 2020, and it was a great year for sales. We see these same sales trends carrying over into 2021. We are seeing more developers working to position themselves on speculative land purchases and to increase land acquisitions. This is a positive sign especially as it relates to the increasing demands on housing in our area. For the past 14 months, we have been battling inventory issues, and we have struggled to keep up with the demand. At the end of the day, we have to increase the overall market share of site-ready, buildable lots; otherwise, we are going to see higher-than-normal prices. This is especially true in New Hanover County, where the market demand for housing, for rent or to own, is far outpacing the available supply on the ground. As an industry, we continue to hear the rallying cries for more affordable housing to the point that it is deafening. The unfortunate truth, though, is that without the city of Wilmington, New Hanover County and CFPUA stepping in to partner with the development community on infrastructure like water, sewer and roads, we fear that these cries are going to fall on deaf ears. When you

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couple that with the material delays and cost overruns on lumber, it is creating real challenges when it comes to providing cheaper housing. This is where we look at the other side of the coin. As the homebuilding industry moves into 2021, unfortunately, we still see some of the same lingering trends carry over from 2020 as it relates to material pricing and delays. Lumber prices continue to remain very high and volatile. We saw prices jump 150% in the third and fourth quarters of 2020, and we have yet to see any relief as we have moved into the first quarter of 2021. Our industry is a global industry that relies heavily on commodities and their overall supply chains moving along without disruption. The National Association of Home Builders, along with other coalition members, has increased pressure on the lumber mills in the U.S. and Canada. At the same time, NAHB has shifted its overall lobbying efforts to the new Biden administration. Many of our members are asking and searching for relief, but in many respects this issue is strictly a supply-and-demand issue that will take some time to sort itself out. At the same time, we are still seeing major manufacturing delays on windows, doors and appliances. Anecdotally speaking, I am hearing that many of our builder members are waiting anywhere from 14 to 18 weeks on windows alone. This is creating a major problem when we go to stage our trades and work to finish out the home as we cannot get the house to a stage to secure it from


theft or vandalism. One of the newest challenges is that many of the appliance and home goods manufacturers are narrowing their overall consumer offerings and selections. For example, instead of having 20 dishwashers a consumer can pick from, the manufacturer has reduced total offerings to 10. These offerings may now only include a few higher-end models, a few midgrade models and a few low-end models. This has changed the design process as builders are having to navigate new ordering and scheduling terms and conditions that may not meet the consumers’ desires. Unfortunately, the entity that is being hurt the most is the consumer. Builders have had to draw out their construction schedules, which means it’s taking us longer to finish projects, thus creating delays in closings. From an “outlook” standpoint, home construction will likely continue to expand, especially as we look at the second and third quarters of 2021. Much of this will be driven by a strong optimism that with the vaccine making its rounds, we will finally reach a true, new, “steady” normal.

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 THE NEWLY ESTABLISHED NEW HANOVER COMMUNITY ENDOWMENT RECEIVED $1.25 BILLION FROM THE SALE OF NHRMC TO NOVANT HEALTH. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE MONEY SHOULD BE SPENT ON? “OPIOID CRISIS STARTED BY BIG PHARMA and their army of drone doctors. Help for those without insurance or Medicaid. Start auditing the billings of thousands of people overcharged by the hospital. That would be a start wouldn’t it?” – FREDRIC JAMES “I THINK SOME OF THESE FUNDS should be used to address the lack of affordable housing options for neurodiverse adults in the New Hanover County area. The population of neurodiverse adults in our area is one of the largest in the state due to our location and local programs. Sadly, housing for this population has not been addressed as of yet. Communities across the country are working on solutions to this growing problem and so should we. There are many examples of cities partnering with nonprofit organizations to make this work.” – CAROLINA MATT

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

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN THE AREA? yes

Cameron Moore is executive officer of the Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association.

NATIVE (whole life) 18.2% 4.5% PANDEMIC PERIOD

59.1%

18.2%

TRANSPLANT

NEWBIE (2-5 years)

(5-25 years)

2021

SPARK

S PA R K IDEAS

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

W I L M I N GT O N B I Z T A L K

FROM THE PODCAST “THE MARKET IS EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE. It’s competitive in a lot of different ways we probably haven’t seen (even) 10 to 12 years ago when the market was really rocking. It’s competitive from a standpoint where there’s so much more competition from out of town.” - RYAN CRECELIUS, PRINCIPAL BROKER FOR NEST REALTY, ON THE CURRENT HOUSING MARKET SIGN UP FOR DAILY NEWS UPDATES AND SUBSCRIBE TO THE GREATER WILMINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL AT WILMINGTONBIZ.COM

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BEHIND THE

NUMBERS

$

1,243,171,045.48

AMOUNT WIRED TO COMMUNITY ENDOWMENT

ENDOWMENT ESTABLISHED FROM NOVANT’S PURCHASE OF NHRMC

WILMINGTON

ILM

PASSENGERS *reflects impacts of COVID-19 on air travel industry

1,075,963 934,058 2018

477,242*

DOWNTOWN WILMINGTON

310

BY VICKY JANOWSKI

NEW HANOVER COUNTY 34.3%

YEAR-OVER-YEAR ROOM OCCUPANCY 34.3% TAX COLLECTIONS

HOTEL

(JULY-DEC. 2020)

1.9%

-23.2%

*reflects cancellations in meetings and conventions with COVID-19

CONVENTION DISTRICT

WILMINGTON

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH

CAROLINA BEACH

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AMOUNT OF GRAFFITI MSD AMBASSADORS REMOVED FROM PUBLIC PROPERTY (FY 19-20)

COUNTYWIDE

ON FEB. 1 THE SALE OF NEW HANOVER Regional Medical Center to Novant Health closed. Along with transitioning ownership of the health system and starting to turn it into a regional hub for Novant, is the question of what to do now with the money. As part of Winston-Salem-based Novant’s offer to beat out other interested bidders, the not-for-profit health system put nearly $2 billion on the table (along with other commitments for capital investments and expanding UNC’s medical education presence locally). Because NHRMC was a county-owned system, the net proceeds went to New Hanover County with the bulk – more than $1.2 billion – used to set up an independent community foundation. That’s $1,243,171,045.48 to be exact, said Spence Broadhurst, board chair of the New Hanover Community Endowment. The amount could go up since other proceeds from the sale are being held in escrow to take care of reconciliations. Once finalized, the remaining money would move over to the endowment. “Duke Endowment President Rhett Mabry told me that we would become overnight when this (sale) closed – and now it’s closed – one of the top two or three in the South because The Duke Endowment, which is $3.8 billion, covers two states, North and South Carolina,” said Hannah Gage, vice chair of the new foundation. “I think what is unique about us is that the geographic size is smaller for the amount of money.” Under the initial plan approved by county commissioners and NHRMC trustees, endowment grants are to go toward health and social equity, education, community development and community safety. “It’s going to be a period of time before we’re in a position to start accepting and making grants because obviously we just received the money,” Broadhurst said. “We have it invested incredibly securely and at a very low return right now until we can get our investment policy in place and those kinds of things … You don’t just drop a billion dollars in the stock market at the top of the market.”

2020

2019

-34.8%*

BRUNSWICK COUNTY

160MPH ESTIMATED TORNADO WIND SPEEDS (TOUCHDOWN FEB. 15) Sources: Wilmington International Airport, Wilmington Downtown Inc., New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority, Brunswick County

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BizBites

DIGEST THE

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

SOUTH COLLEGE ROAD PROJECT ADVANCES

RIVERLIGHTS ADDING MORE APARTMENTS

More apartments are in the works for Riverlights, with the newest plans adding 286 units on 17 acres. The site is within a 120-acre mixed-use portion of the 1,400-acre Wilmington community. Argento at Riverlights is expected to contain a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, along with amenities that include a swimming pool and dog park. The developer is Indiana-based Sterling Development. The Argento plans were undergoing the city of Wilmington’s technical review process as of press time. Already under construction in the master-planned community off River Road is Mosby at Riverlights, a project with 250 apartments. Both Mosby and Argento are upscale developments. Mosby is “more dense and includes traditional neighborhood constructs,” said Nick Cassala, vice president of operations for Riverlights. The first building in the Mosby project, which is under development

by Virginia-based Middleburg Communities, is expected to be finished by April, Cassala said. For Argento, Sterling Development has had the land under contract, and would likely start construction four to six months after closing on the purchase. Some existing Riverlights residents have expressed opposition to the apartments, saying it wasn’t what was originally envisioned, but Riverlights officials disagree. “In developing this new section of Riverlights, with both multifamily and commercial properties, we are intentionally creating an opportunity to disperse traffic within our master plan,” Cassala said. “Our timing with this new section coordinates the apartment homes with new and necessary commercial enterprises, places like boutique fitness companies, day care operators, veterinarians, dry cleaners and the like.”

– CECE NUNN

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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N E W H A N O V E R CO U N T Y TA X B A S E : 2 0 2 0

$581

MILLION

RENDERING C/O RIVERLIGHTS

Construction could begin this year for the development of one of the last large tracts on South College Road. New Hanover County Commissioners in March approved the rezoning of a little over 64 acres at 5601 S. College Road from R-15, residential, to Planned Development (PD). The PD designation allows for the potential creation of mixed-use structures with 24,000 square feet of commercial space and 40 residential units; up to 250 apartments; 50 townhomes; and 120 other homes. The project expands the Whiskey Branch master-planned community, which began in 2018 with a residential subdivision containing single-family homes, duplexes and four-unit townhomes. The developer is Dry Pond Partners, a Cameron Management entity. Hill Rogers, broker in charge of Cameron Management, said in early March, “Engineering is underway; hopefully we will be ‘playing in the dirt’ later this year.”

AN INCREASE OF

20.5% OVER 2019


www

AshleyFurniture.com

(910) 769-0258 | 6832 Market Street, Wilmington, NC 28405 (910) 397-0368 | 5309 Carolina Beach Road, Wilmington, NC 28412


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WILMINGTON

GOTHIC BY NEIL COTIAUX

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I L LU ST R AT I O N B Y M A R K W E B E R

NEWCOMERS ARE MAKING WAVES IN AREA REAL ESTATE, FUELED BY THE ABILITY TO WORK FROM HOME

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ne year ago, just before the state imposed its first coronavirusrelated lockdown, Madeline McCarthy and her husband, Robert Elkins, were getting comfortable in the log cabin they had bought in Saluda. Their move to the picturesque community outside Asheville followed more than a year roaming North America in an RV and before that, two years living near a beach and rainforest in Costa Rica. All the while, McCarthy worked remotely as a mortgage underwriter for a Northern Virginia lender. “All I need is internet. I had set up a small office in my RV with a desk and my monitors,” McCarthy said. Now, during the pandemic, all 150 or so employees of the Tysons Corner firm that employs her work remotely. The couple moved into a second home on South Ninth Street in Wilmington two months ago, drawn to the region by former neighbors in the D.C. area. “They’re either retiring or able to work remotely in the last maybe five to 10 years of their careers, and they’re working here and loving it,” McCarthy said. “There were multiple offers on this house, so we did pay more for it than the list price,” she said of the renovated 118-year-old property, an easy walk to downtown’s central business district. McCarthy’s ability to work remotely represents one of several factors that continue to propel home sales in the tri-county area (Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties) to record levels. According to December 2020 data from the National Association of Realtors, 21% of employees nationally are now working from home 100% of the time. That number is forecast to drop to 18% this year and to 12% in 2022 as the pandemic ebbs and workers divide their time between home and the company office. Allison Donovan, a broker at Nest Realty, said the retreat to home offices as the state’s first lockdown began was a factor in keeping last year’s housing market healthy. “I was getting a lot of requests for four bedrooms, two baths because people need the office space; they’re requesting the fourth bedroom or an additional room to have a home office,” she said. “They also want to make sure that the WiFi in the area’s good and in the house it has the right connections.” Wi-Fi also helped close sales when buyers searched from afar. “I’ve had several clients that can work remotely and have chosen Wilmington. One recently moved from California … I sold them a place in Carolina Beach last year. But we did the house hunt remotely. I FaceTimed them at several houses,” w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

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Madeline McCarthy and her husband, Robert Elkins, bought a second home in Wilmington, where she can work for her Virginia firm from her home office.

Donovan said. Single-family homes sold across the tri-county area in 2020 totaled 11,155, up 22% over 2019 and shy of the prior peak of 12,055 in 2006. Nearrecord sales resulted from strong demand, low interest rates, rising rents that spurred home buying and the attractiveness of living along the coast, said Anne Gardner, CEO of Cape Fear Realtors, a regional trade group. For the month of December, closed sales increased 33% year-overyear, and the median sale price for single-family and townhomes/condos combined rose 19% to a new high of $246,000. In Brunswick County, the residential market in 2020 set a fullyear record with total sales topping $2 billion, a 51% increase over 2019. The number of units sold increased by 28.8% to 6,331, and the average sale price reached $340,741. “Construction, moving, mortgages, personal spending at retail – virtually every real estate sale impacts the local economy for the better long term,” observed Cynthia Walsh, CEO of the Brunswick County Association of Realtors. “Taking a look at the retail moving into Shallotte and Leland, I think the economic firepower is here and growing.” While the multiplier effect

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of housing-related expenditures (furniture, appliances, etc.) accounted for 16% of the total economic impact of a typical home sale in North Carolina in 2019, according to NAR – the last year for which data were available – new home construction accounted for 50.5% of the total impact. But with a low inventory of new housing stock in the Cape Fear region bumping up against attractive rates, strong demand and competing offers, prices may continue to climb and usher in a cooling-off period in sales, and in turn diminish the positive community impact of home buying. Gardner cites labor and material shortages in construction and a scarcity of developable land as “pressure points” that could eventually lead to a market slowdown if left unaddressed. At year’s end, only 1.5 months’ supply of housing was available across the three counties, she said, compared to 3.6 months in December 2019, a drop of 57%. More properties will come on the market as the peak selling season begins, Gardner believes. Pender County, where developable land exists, is likely to see sustained home construction. With its recent closing on 130 acres along Sidbury Road at the PenderNew Hanover line and more than 1,000 M A G A Z I N E

other acres under contract, McAdams Homes, for one, expects to build up to 5,000 for-sale and for-rent units in southern Pender County over the next 10 years. This year, the firm intends to break ground for 315 single-family and townhome lots. But as developers eye additional land in more rural sections of Pender County, internet connectivity remains an issue. “I would say 75% of Pender County’s land area is unserved and 25% is served,” said Jody Heustess, vice president of marketing and customer care at ATMC, which developed its first fiber-optic community in Brunswick County 16 years ago. “And once we did that we had other developers come in and say ‘I want that for my community’ and ‘Where can I get this?’” he recalled. This summer, ATMC will break ground on a $28.9 million project to bring high-speed internet to more than 6,800 residential addresses in Pender County using 460 miles of buried Corning fiber. The project is funded in part with a $21.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect broadband program. While ATMC was given 60 months to complete the project, Heustess said the firm hopes to get it done in 24. Meanwhile, mortgage rates continue to support the market. Inching up from last year, the rate on a 30-year mortgage averaged 3.05% at mid-February, according to Bankrate. NAR expects that rate to reach 3.25% in 2022. “The rates are still super low, and more people have realized they can work at home now,” said Nest Realty’s Donovan. Now out of an RV and into their latest home, Madeline McCarthy and her husband are frequenting breweries and restaurants downtown and shopping for furnishings. “I’m looking forward to warm weather so I can get out and explore our new neighborhood a little bit more,” McCarthy said. “But so far, we found people to be very welcoming and very friendly.”


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The Power Breakfast Series is a quarterly gathering of the business community and other community leaders to talk about issues of interest to our region. Each breakfast features a panel discussion or individual speaker focusing on topics of interest to local companies. The breakfasts provide a unique networking opportunity since they are attended by a range of influential people including busines owners, executives, community leaders and many others.

Want to plug into the Power? Become a Power Breakfast sponsor! Sponsors are recognized before and during each event and have a table up front. Learn about sponsorship options by contacting Maggi Apel at mapel@wilmingtonbiz.com. Note: Power Breakfasts continue bringing important topics to the community through Covid by following the gathering restrictions and broadcasting the events online.


ESCAPE to figure EIGHT BY KYLE HANLIN | PHOTOS BY KEVIN KLEITCHES

PANDEMIC INCREASES APPEAL OF PRIVATE, PRICEY ISLAND HOMES 18

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t shares a ZIP code with apartment complexes, storage centers, a skate park, a Walmart Supercenter and thousands of Wilmingtonians who hang up their board shorts and bikinis in and around Ogden and Porters Neck. Yet hardly a directional sign shows drivers the way to Figure Eight Island. That’s by design. “I used to run an ad that said, ‘Discover Figure Eight Island, the bestkept secret in the South,’” said longtime Figure Eight Island resident and real estate agent Buzzy Northen. “I had to take it away because nobody wanted me to tell anybody that.”

The private island, located just north of Wrightsville Beach across Mason’s Inlet, is home to the most expensive real estate in North Carolina. Nearly all of the island’s 498 properties are valued at more than $2 million, and some exceed the $5 million barrier. And the law of supply and demand shows that values on the island will continue to rise. “Our problem right now is we have a lot of demand, and we have very low inventory,” said Jo El Skipper of Figure Eight Realty. “But it was a roller coaster ride of a year, and I guess a lot of people who had been thinking about Figure Eight decided to jump in

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and finally pull the trigger and buy a beach house.” In October 2020, the sale of 142 Beach Road South on Figure Eight was the highest ever recorded by the N.C. Regional Multiple Listing Services (MLS). The 5,800-square-foot, sevenbed, seven-bath home that features ocean views from nearly every room carried a price tag of $5.5 million. “2020 was the biggest year ever on Figure Eight,” said Northen, who was the listing agent for the 142 Beach Road South sale. “The pandemic led the way. People were looking for a safe waterfront community that they knew was a good investment.” R

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federal, state and county funds to help cover the cost of beach nourishment projects. The 2018 nourishments of Wrightsville Beach and Ocean Isle Beach carried a price tag of $13.2 million. “We’re currently finishing a twoyear beach-nourishment project,” Northen said. “It will probably be finished by the first of April. We’re putting sand on the south end of the island. “We have never accepted any federal money. We pay for everything.”

A VISION, INTERRUPTED, THEN REALIZED.

PRICELESS PRIVACY

The mere idea of a private beach community is a unique one for North Carolina, where most of the state’s coastline is freely accessible to the public. But it is that privacy that is the main draw for Figure Eight Island’s residents and property owners. “There is a shroud of mystery (to Figure Eight Island) because it is really private, and you can’t really see,” said Northen. “There is only one entrance on and off the island, and you have to have a pass – either be a property owner or you have to have a pass phoned in. You can’t just show up and make up an excuse and go to somebody’s house.” That privacy – virtual isolation – made Figure Eight a near-perfect location for families, who could afford it, forced to move to remote work and remote learning during the quarantines and social distancing of 2020. “Who would have known that COVID would have spiked real estate sales?” said Skipper. “When this all started, I remember lying in bed and thinking, ‘What’s going to happen? Are we going to have any business?’ And, lo and behold, a private island ended up having a lot of appeal to a lot of

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people during a pandemic. We moved a lot of real estate.” For Northen, who has called the island home since the late 1980s and served as the president of the island’s yacht club from 2004-07, the increased interest in Figure Eight Island is much deserved. “I think we are way undervalued today versus the Kiawahs, the Sea Islands and the Hilton Heads,” Northen said. “I think we are the value proposition of all of those.”

A COMMUNITY EFFORT

When considering exclusive communities and clubs, it is conceivable that homeowners’ or members’ dues can cover the costs of maintaining common areas and amenities like swimming pools, tennis courts and even community roadways. On Figure Eight Island, shared community expenses among the island’s 498 homes also involve maintenance items such as beach nourishment and 24-hour island security. “Everybody maintains, everybody chips in to maintain the waterfronts, the oceanfront,” said Northen. “God does most of it.” Wilmington-area beach towns have in the past received help from M A G A Z I N E

While the island’s history, like most North Carolina coastal communities, documents Civil War shipwrecks and small skirmishes, the island’s most interesting history may be its long path toward development. After its purchase at auction by the Foy family in 1795, Figure Eight Island, then known as The Banks or Woods Beach, remained part of the Foy family’s Poplar Grove Plantation well into the 1900s. Then, following the devastation to coastal development wrought by Hurricane Hazel in 1954, thenWilmington Mayor Dan Cameron and his brother Bruce saw an opportunity. The brothers purchased the island and two adjoining parcels of marshland from the Foys and George Hutaff for a total of $100,000. And then … nothing. For 10 years the island sat, awaiting further instruction. Eventually, in the mid-1960s, the Cameron brothers and their cousin Raiford Trask formed Island Development Co. The tract was renamed Figure Eight Island due to the marshlands’ winding waterways, and the first home was completed in 1966. By the early 1970s, Island Development Co. cashed in on its investment and sold Figure Eight Island to The Litchfield Co. for $4 million. Home and lot sales continued through the early 1970s, but an economic recession sent Litchfield’s subsidiary, Figure Eight Development


Co., into bankruptcy in 1974. A couple of transactions followed, and, by the early 1980s, the homeowners’ association owned the island.

SENSE OF PEACE

Through the past 40 years, the vast majority of homesites have been built out, and many original homes have been replaced or undergone major renovations to meet modernday standards for owners’ beach retreats. “People that own property on the island, they say when they drive over that bridge, they say it’s a whole sense of peace,” Skipper said. “It’s the feeling that you’re a world away, but with the accessibility to all of the things that you want if you decide you don’t want to be a world away, so it’s the best of both worlds. “Fourth of July, when the island is at its capacity and everyone is there with family and friends, and you go out to the beach, you can literally go out to the beach and find your own space to sit and the next person might be 25, 30, 50 or 100 yards from you. That is really hard to find these days. The fact that it is so limited is what’s made it the special place that it is.” “It’s a very unique 5-mile stretch,” Northen said. “We are one of very few designated areas that has a pristine water designation. And we think we have the finest walking beach anywhere. It’s very tidal. We have an average 4-foot tide. Shells everywhere.”

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The home at 274 Beach Road North on Figure Eight Island sold last year for $4 million.

Realtor Buzzy Northen, with his wife, Ellen, has lived on the island for more than three decades.

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Mission

Fostering independence.

Today!

Repair, rebuild, and make homes accessible; and inspire service, generosity, and hope.

Area Rebuilding Ministry, Inc. (WARM) unites people of compassion to mes, assist in hurricane recovery, and restore hope for our low-income many of whom are elderly or disabled. We repair and rebuild ownerrebuild, and make omes in Repair, Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender, and Onslow Counties.

Mission

THOUSAN of lives transform

( AND COUNTI

Vision

g dignity.Mission We are excited to share that 2021 is WARM’s ring independence. 25 th Anniversary! homes accessible; and WARM’s work is only possible inspire service, generosity, because of the thousands of All homeowners are safe in their homes. and hope. dedicated volunteers and supporters who make up the WARM family. No matter your gift or talent, we can use you in mighty ways to make a difference in our local community.

epair, rebuild, and make homes accessible; and inspire service, Areas of generosity, Impact and hope.

Area of Focus

nistry, Inc. (WARM) unites people of compassion to e recovery, and restore hope for our low-income derly or disabled. We repair and rebuild ownerNew Hanover, Pender, and Onslow Counties.

Vision

Mission Health & at Home Safety Related

Learn how you can help at

warmnc.org warmnc.org Learn how you can help at

All homeowners are safe in their homes. Health, Preservation Fostering Safety, and of Affordable Dignity & Accessibility dther make homes accessible; and inspire Repairs & Housing Independence aspects of life. Homeownership ce, generosity, and hope. Accessibility nctioning, contaminant-free home Improvements cts resident health and safety.

Area of Focus

vere weather, WARM supports our ve with dignity and independence.

Vision

are safe in their homes. Affordable nwners alth & Preservation Fostering R E V E

Related of Housing Affordable Preservation ccessible; and inspire pairs & Housing nd hope. ssibility

rea of Focus

vements

n their homes. R E V E A L Dignity and rvation Fostering Independence ordable Dignity &

reas

using

pporting R E V E A L gnity & pendence

Independence

Hurricane & Disaster Recovery & VOLUNTEER Rebuilding

DONATE

5058 Wrightsville Ave.

Wilmington, NC 28403 (910) 399-7563 | info@warmnc.org (910) 399-7563 5058 Wrightsville info@warmnc.org Ave., Wilmington, NC 28403

“Thank you” does not begin to express our sincere gratitude to all the WARM is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Federal Tax #56-2076795. All who donationshave are tax deductible. businesses and WARMIDpartners come together over the Wilmington Are Certified partner A L P A N E L S last quarter of a century to serve more than 1,550 households! Rebuilding Ministry agency of

Hurricane Dignity & & Disaster Founded in 1996&after Hurricane Fran, WARM organizes Independence Recovery O U T S I D E B A C K C O V E R O U T S I D E compassionate volunteers who show seniors, veterans, children, and Rebuilding other low-income families that their community has not forgotten about them.

P A N E L S

Hurricane & Disaster Recovery & Rebuilding

By rebuilding a home in disrepair or damaged by severe weather, WARM supports a homeowner’s goal to remain self-sufficient and live with dignity and independence. “It is so easy to take the comfort in our lives for granted — such as having a sound floor to walk on, a solid roof over our head, and having loved ones who can help us when we’re in need. I’m grateful to be part of something that makes a life-changing impact in people’s lives — an organization that helps people who are truly in need feel safe and comfortable in their own homes.”

Mandy Mattox Hurricane Hurricane & andDisaster Disaster Recovery Recovery

P A N E L S

F R O N T

Broker, REALTOR® Landmark Sotheby’s International Realty WARM Board Member, Donor and Volunteer Mandy makes a donation in honor of her clients at every closing, and then WARM sends the homeowner a personalized thank you card.


Tracey Newkirk, WARM Board Member & Nikki Quick, WARM Field Supervisor

DID YOU Know? In Brunswick, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender counties:

33%

of households are cost-burdened (when a family spends more than 31% of their budget on housing)*

50%

of older adults with lower income suffer from social isolation, which can be as dangerous to their health as smoking or obesity**

$19

are saved in Medicare/ Medicaid costs for every $1 spent on home repairs**

How Businesses Can Help: Volunteer Getting started volunteering with WARM is easy, AND can be a great team-building exercise for your company! No construction skills are required to make a difference for a homeowner in need. By making urgent, safety-related repairs, hurricane recovery, or accessibility upgrades, you will help strengthen our community while also strengthening your team bond! WARM offers home repair volunteer opportunities every week, Monday thru Saturday.

Donate Consider making a financial donation through your company. Good quality used or new building or construction materials are always needed.

*NC Housing Finance Agency, 2019 **AARP, 2018

WARM steps in WITH...

SERVICE, GENEROSITY AND HOPE!

Over the past three years, The WARM Impact: “My organization is a huge supporter of WARM. We believe in what they do and how they do it. And we have for a couple of years now.”

Mike Heath President, H&S Management A local full-service commercial and residential maintenance company

Mike’s company donates money, as well as, skilled labor to make critical home repairs.

Become a WARM Partner today! Thank you for continuing to improve the lives of our neighbors in Southeastern North Carolina for 25 years!

$53,750 1,530 $99,500

Donated by realtors and construction companies Volunteer hours contributed by construction companies and realtors Dollars WARM saved thanks to donations and labor given by realtors and construction volunteers


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NO WAY

HOME? AFFORDABLE HOUSING ADVOCATES DESCRIBE SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGES

M

BY JENNY CALLISON | PHOTOS BY ARIS HARDING

ushrooming apartment developments. A steady stream of new residents fueling the Cape Fear real estate market. Record-setting luxury home sales. A healthy demand for housing is a positive indicator of the area’s economy, right? But there’s a flip side, say local housing advocates: Increasing numbers of existing residents can’t find housing they can afford. “Land is in very short supply in New Hanover County and Wilmington, and that has a huge impact on (housing) affordability,” said Steve Spain, executive director of Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity. “Scarcity and price go together, and that has been a challenge for Habitat.” As an example of the impact that a hot housing market can have on low- to moderate-income residents, Spain points to two homes in Habitat’s new development off Gordon Road in Wilmington. A recently completed home appraised at almost 16% more than an

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identical home completed last July. It’s not just demand driving higher prices: The rapidly rising cost of building materials is also a contributor, Spain added. The lack of workforce housing issue goes beyond Habitat’s ability to develop homes for which its partner-buyers can afford the mortgage. “Housing affordability is a community issue,” said Rachel LaCoe, New Hanover County’s workforce planner. “Having housing that is affordable near jobs is valuable for both workers and employers. It attracts a diverse workforce, provides financial security, improves mental health and developmental outcomes and boosts academic achievement.” Acknowledging the problem, the city and county established the New Hanover County/ City of Wilmington Workforce Housing Advisory Committee, which is finishing up a housing study with recommendations to the city and county on how they can address the issue and prepare for the growth this area will inevitably see. Committee chairman David Spetrino, president of PBC Design + Build, said that in addition to limited land and rising home costs, two other factors work against development of more affordable housing units in New Hanover County. One is the stigma that the concept of workforce housing carries. “As much as we need affordable housing, there are neighbors who will come out against 2 0 2 1

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Steve Spain, (from left) executive director of Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity, homeowner Tonya Lawton, and Lauren McKenzie, who will replace Spain as executive director when he retires in April, are shown in a Habitat neighborhood in New Hanover County.

that,” Spetrino said. “The people who need affordable housing are teachers, public safety workers, first responders, health care workers. We have had to be very specific (in our description). These are not free or subsidized houses. They are discounted houses, and they are the same as surrounding houses.” A second factor blocking development of more affordable units is the city of Wilmington’s height and density limits, Spetrino said. He points to downtown Wilmington’s Sawmill Point and Flats on Front apartment complexes, where density approaches 600 units on 9 acres. Compare that, he continues, to the norm for suburbanstyle apartment projects, where density is limited to 17 units per acre. “No one can answer why that is,” Spetrino said. “Seventeen is a random, arbitrary number. Density is all wacky in the city and the county.” Density limits most single-family housing in the county to between three and seven units per acre – another obstacle to making cost-effective use of limited land. The city of Wilmington is looking at how it might spur affordable housing. One approach is to allow residential development in predominantly commercial areas. Another is to ease

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density and height restrictions. The advisory committee has recommended that the city and county develop new land development codes to provide some flexibility on density and height for multifamily developments. It also proposes that developers be incentivized to include affordable units in their projects. “If you build affordable housing, we’ll give you a break on density,” is the gist of the committee’s proposal, according to Spetrino, who added that builders would be required to make 10% of the units in any development available at affordable rates. Those units would be indistinguishable from surrounding units and would be scattered throughout the project. Spetrino’s company has requested such a break, explaining to local officials in a memo last June that it would like to set aside about 10% of its new apartment homes for workforce housing. In his memo, Spetrino notes that a report published by the Cape Fear Realtors shows that almost half of all Wilmington workers make less than $40,000 per year. “We want to set aside housing for people making 60% to 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI),” he wrote. “This M A G A Z I N E

is about $31,000-$41,0000 for a singleperson household or $35,000 to $47,000 for a two-person household. Cape Fear Collective is approaching the workforce housing problem from a different angle: securing outside investments to purchase and rehab existing residences, and then renting or selling the units to recoup the capital. That new capital will enable the organization to purchase and improve additional housing stock. The nonprofit, which aims to bring people together in a structured way to achieve social change and eliminate inequities, received a $2.5 million investment at 2% interest from Live Oak Bank. The money has allowed CFC to purchase 21 houses, 19 of which were occupied but all of which were substandard. “We recycle that capital,” CEO Patrick Brien said. “The investor gets the interest; the community gets housing. We’re essentially buying and selling properties with a tiny margin. Our overhead is philanthropically funded.” Live Oak Bank President Huntley Garriott said banks’ involvement with financing affordable housing isn’t new, but Live Oak’s approach may be. “It’s an investment,” he said of the $2.5 million. “(CFC) will manage that


Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry volunteers repair a home from a portfolio a nonprofit organization purchased with a Live Oak Bank investment.

investment for us; we’ll get that money back over time. “What we did was look at different models and see if we could invest at a lower cost of capital,” he added. “Ours is an investment model, not a grant model. That’s the part we’re really excited about: bringing more private capital in to help affordable housing. We’re trying to set up a model that can be used for others.” Garriott explained that CFC will work with outside managers to oversee the 21 units now and will later liaise with whoever eventually buys those properties. “Some tenants may end up entering into purchase agreements; some may continue renting,” he said. Brien and other CFC staffers want to spread their model. They are in discussions with the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, a Winston-Salembased foundation that has funded affordable housing investments in the past. The group will also meet with affordable housing advocates in Charlotte to encourage similar banknonprofit partnerships there. Brien said that partnerships are key to his organization’s success. “Right now we have a really good partnership with WARM (Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry) in our rehab work, although we’ll have to go to the market to get contractors for some of the work. We’re trying to leverage every nonprofit partnership we have, such as with Cape Fear Community Land

Trust.” Some partners may be for-profit entities. Brenda Carlton Dixon, a Realtor and owner of Dixon Realty, was inspired to create Get That Deed, a program that helps convert renters to homeowners by preparing them to qualify for a mortgage loan. Her program celebrated its 82nd newhomeowner client in early February. “I tell our working families, retired or disabled people, that in 18 months or less they can become a homeowner,” Dixon said. “It starts with building their belief level. Most have rented for as long as 50 years.” Dixon consults with individuals or families as to their desires as well as their financial situation. If necessary, she helps them repair their credit or build their savings, and she provides information about programs aimed at first-time homebuyers and takes them through the process. “My goal is to be a source of information and encouragement and hand-holding,” she said. “These are people who have been renting for these number of years and sometimes have applied for much smaller purchases and got turned down. They don’t think home ownership is within reach.” Dixon has been so successful, she says, that now she has a problem. “I have about 17 families who have pre-approvals, but no affordable homes are available. The majority of these people make less than $16 an hour, and they have other financial obligations.

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Their approvals are for $215,000 and under, so finding something in that price point is difficult. And often, multiple people are making offers on any house in that price range, so there’s a bidding war. (My clients) can’t compete.” Dixon has begun marketing her pre-approved clients to housing investors. “I say, ‘Give these families a chance to look at your property; give us first right of refusal. They will pay full market price, and your property will never have to hit the open market.’ We’re looking forward to finding more of those investors that are willing to work with us.” North Carolina’s inheritance laws have aggravated the affordable housing situation, said Habitat’s Spain. Spain said CFC and other housing advocates are trying to get the state law changed so that, even absent a will or a probate, an heir can establish title over time by keeping up the property. When the house is eventually sold, those proceeds stay in the family, and the community gains an affordable residence. “Right now, prices for houses under $250,000 are just going crazy,” he said. “And there are 1,200 properties in this community that have no clean title so the heirs can’t sell them. They sit there, get code violations and eventually will be condemned, knocked down and the lot gets auctioned off. Those families’ entire wealth is gone.” R

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PROFILE

TINY HOMES

BIG MISSION BY LORI WILSON | PHOTO BY KEVIN KLEITCHES

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PROFILE

E F F O RT A I M S T O S E E T H AT NO ONE HAS TO SLEEP OUTSIDE

L

ike many altruistic minds, local social worker Donna Evans has volunteered at soup kitchens and similar organizations to help community members in need. For her, though, that work just didn’t feel like enough. Perhaps longtime friends Tom and Kim Dalton sensed Evans’ desire to do more when they asked her to join several other New Hanover stakeholders in developing a community for chronically homeless people in Wilmington. “Being able to give someone a home and a community to nurture them and gain independence,” Evans said, “… I was convinced that that’s how to solve homelessness. It’s more than a soup kitchen, more than a pantry. Give them a home, and that’s where the answer lies.” To Evans and other local community members, the Daltons proposed building a community of tiny houses that would be rented to the homeless at low, affordable rates – only $300 all-inclusive. Instead of reinventing the wheel, they modeled their idea after homes in Springfield, Missouri, with the same mission, called Eden Village. Earlier this year, the first tiny home of the Wilmington Eden Village was completed on Kornegay Avenue. Thirty-one other units will soon follow. For months now, Evans and her social work colleague Ursula Greene have volunteered to find and develop relationships with homeless folks throughout town with the lofty goal of making Wilmington a “city where no one w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

sleeps outside” – the Eden Village motto. The social work duo and other Eden Village representatives have distributed applications to the local homeless, often helping them complete the forms, so that people can inquire about joining the tiny house neighborhood when all construction is complete. To qualify for Eden Village, applicants must have been homeless in Wilmington for at least one year, be on disability and be single. “Because they’re disabled, they can’t work,” Evans said, “and if they do work, they risk losing their disability income. There’s a lot of people out there like that.” In fact, the Eden Village team estimates that 50 to 100 people fit this category in Wilmington. “I’ve been out with Donna and Ursula,” said Eden Village executive director Shawn Hayes (left). “They know everybody, and everybody knows them. One of the unique things about them is even if people are not a good fit for Eden Village, they’re still helping, finding them places to go.” When the first Eden Village community is complete, Evans said another will be built to meet the need. First, though, the team continues to focus on fundraising for phase one. The Daltons and other fundraisers had secured $1 million in funds before the first tiny home was completed, but another $2 million is still needed. “We have to put in a lot of infrastructure,” Hayes said. “We need drainage to put in the electric. A community center needs to be built … It’s a lot of behind-the-scenes things before we can finish putting all the houses in.” Evans, a former coworker, recommended that Hayes join the team due to his calm and “stable” leadership. Before committing to the team, Hayes visited Eden Village in Missouri. “I had to see what it was going to be for myself,” he said. “I had to see it in action, see what it looks like. Once I saw that I said, ‘OK.’ I 2 0 2 1

feel I was called to do this.” The Eden Village team has begun a feverish stage of fundraising and hope that others will feel called to help as well. Although more homes will be built over time, residents will not move in until all construction is complete. “We don’t want to make it just one or two people,” Evans said. “We want it to be a community, helping each other, coming from the same background … So many times homeless folks hear about a great opportunity, and it falls through. We don’t want to do that.” Homes in Eden Village will face each other to emphasize the spirit of community and togetherness. The gated neighborhood will feature sidewalks and walking paths, but no cars will come in and out to secure the safety of the residents. Many homeless people are often escaping dangerous or traumatizing situations, Evans explained, such as domestic violence. Each tiny house features two recliners, a TV, a bedroom dresser and a bathroom – all included in the $300 rent. “So many people are helping in a big way so that every house is completely furnished,” Evans said. “Our folks don’t have anything … (Homeless) people can hardly believe that it’s true that something like this would happen to them. It’s really sweet, really humbling.” Evans said she has been “blown away” by the many calls they’ve received from community members wanting to volunteer. “The majority of people want what Eden Village wants,” Hayes said. “We want to make Wilmington a place where no one sleeps outside. Most people see an opportunity.” The team hopes to have the rest of Eden Village complete later this year. To learn more about the project, visit edenvillagewilmington.org. R

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T

TO WATC H

TRENDS

TRENDS

he Cape Fear region has long been a popular relocation spot, but now even more people are flocking to Wilmington. The area was one of the most sought-after places to live in the nation last year, the ripple effects showing in various real estate trends. And some of those trends have come because of the COVID-19 pandemic. BY CHRISTINA HALEY O'NEAL

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LUXURY SALES SPARKLE

REMODELING RAMPS UP

Breaking record after record, the luxury home sales market has been on fire with a steady increase in sales through the COVID-19 pandemic. “In this market, I think people are benefiting from people that were already planning to relocate here, but (COVID) expedited that,” said Tom Gale, president of Wilmington-based Cape Fear Realtors. Luxury home sales had their best year on record locally in 2020, and 21 homes, with a final price of $1 million or more, sold during the month of January for a January record in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties, according to reports by Wilmington-based Just For Buyers Realty. There were eight homes sold for $4 million or more in New Hanover County in 2020, most of the homes on Figure Eight Island. “I think the location of the lion’s share of these luxury homes are on these barrier islands … that’s where everybody wants to be,” said Cynthia Walsh, CEO of the Brunswick County Association of Realtors. In Brunswick County, the largest sale of 2020 was over $3 million; 16 sales were $2 million or greater.

As more people stayed in due to the pandemic, homeowners worked on overdue home improvement projects, bringing value and a fresh new look to their living spaces. A quarterly survey of remodeler members with the National Association of Home Builders indicates that the Remodeling Market Index – which is scaled from 0 to 100 where an index number of 50 indicates a higher share of remodelers view conditions as good rather than poor – showed a rating of 48, 73, 82 and 79 over the four quarters of 2020, respectively. With the area’s tight housing market, homeowners may tend to be more inclined to make improvements. “I think a lot of those people that might toy with the idea of selling can’t really find anything that they want in the price point that they really want to spend,” Gale said. “So those people are just renovating their home and staying put.” But that too is causing issues in the home improvement market with the availability and time needed getting the supplies, services and materials to do the work, he said.

M A G A Z I N E


TRENDS

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SLIM PICKINGS

GOING VIRTUAL

EXPANDING OUTDOORS

From homes to townhomes and condos, it’s a seller’s market. Buyers looking for their desired place to live might have a hard time getting what they want. A United Van Lines report in January ranked Wilmington as No. 1 out of 25 metro areas for inbound moves at 79%. And homes are flying off the market. The attractiveness of the area along with record-low mortgage rates are players in the lack of inventory. The trend: about a 2-month supply of homes in the $450,000-and-under price point, said Gale. “That is the lowest it’s been since 2004, as far back as my stats can go. By comparison, there was a 16-month supply of homes in 2009. Six months is considered a balanced market. So, a two-month supply is a very strong seller’s market,” Gale said. In January, the region saw a record of just over 8,800 homes sold in the $450,000-and-under price point, he said. “The only thing that’s preventing things from going up even further I think at this point is just the lack of inventory. I think if there was more stuff out there, we would have more stuff selling. It’s just that we can’t build enough or get enough sellers to move.”

Technology has come into play in many ways in the real estate world over the years, but as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more buyers are asking for virtual tours than ever before. The need has also been due to the difficulty in getting out-of-state buyers to the area. Agents are using every tool in their toolbox to get to closing without the buyer stepping foot in the home. “We’re seeing this situation happen on a regular basis,” said Ryan Crecelius, principal broker at Nest Realty in Wilmington, in February. “The market is so competitive, even a matter of hours can be too little, too late. Our agents know they have to be quick on the draw to get in the home quickly and give the buyers a thumbs up using FaceTime, video, etc.” Public interest for in-person open houses is 43% lower than a year prior, according to February data released by the National Association of Realtors. In addition, some online services are being used to get closings done more efficiently, such as virtual deed recording. “It was something that the state did allow us to do during the pandemic to be able to keep the closings happening. And the North Carolina Realtors are pushing to keep that as a permanent option because we live in a digital age,” Gale said.

From fresh new decks and pools to fire pits and outdoor kitchens, people are incorporating more outdoor spaces at their homes. The American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey for Q2 2020 showed outdoor living spaces continued to be at the top of the list, with 31% of respondents reporting it the most popular. Home office space came in second at 22%. “The fire pits and whatnot are do-it-yourself projects. And I do think people have gotten that bug over the past year to be able to dress that up during their time spent at home,” Gale said. Homeowners are also enclosing their patios and porches to make sunrooms or extra living space, he said. Some are also looking for a home with a pool, Gale said; however, there hasn’t been a big shift in homes with a pool on the market. The outdoor building trades, whether you are building a deck or a pool, putting in pavers or digging a hole for a fire pit, have also been busy, Walsh said. “And what I hear is, trying to find someone to do the work is very difficult because they are so busy,” said Walsh. “It’s a hopping market for sure.”

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PROFILE

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ELECTED OFFICIAL A N D R E A LT O R AIMS TO P R E S E RV E COUNTY’S Q UA L I T Y O F LIFE BY S HANNON R A E G EN TRY PHOTO BY S U MME R L AM B ERT

“I

PROFILE

will tell you that my real estate experience is by far not the biggest contributor to my understanding and dealings as a county commissioner; my public service is,” Deb Hays said. Winning her 2020 bid for a seat on the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, Hays has a decadeslong career with Intracoastal Realty, collecting accolades and recognition locally, regionally and nationally along the way. While her tenure has made her a better leader, the most relevant lesson has been to always factor in “quality of life” for any decision she makes on behalf of a client, or in this case, on behalf of NHC residents. “(Quality of life) is paramount to me because that is paramount to every citizen,” she said. “For me, county decisions are based on facts, and they’re based on what’s good for all.” Hays’ community involvement has snowballed just as consistently as her career in real estate. She has served on several boards of directors, including Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry, Wilmington Downtown Inc. and the Airlie Gardens Foundation, as well as serving as a Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Board of Advisors member. As former chair of the Wilmington Planning Commission and member of the Wilmington Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, Hays is well-versed in planning and development across New Hanover County. Nevertheless, only a few months into her four-year term, Hays’ dayto-day is mostly filled with local distribution efforts of the COVID-19 vaccine. A frustrating endeavor, to say the least, as Hays notes the county’s capacity to vaccinate 10,000 people a week has at times been thwarted by limited vaccines coming into New Hanover. “At the forefront of everything I do when I wake up every morning is the COVID vaccine and what can we

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do to get more vaccines,” she said. “We’re all very, very frustrated with that. But there are so many other things that are going on too.” Growth and development are also hot topics for Wilmington residents, with overdevelopment and the loss of natural resources being among the chief concerns of residents who might cringe at each new car wash or storage facility erected. To an extent, Hays shares those concerns and “fought so hard as chair of the planning commission against a couple of these in the city.” On the other hand, Hays said, while “growth” can have a negative connotation, responsible growth is what she envisions for the county: improving public transit; working with the county school board to provide quality education to all; adding more blueways and greenways while preserving, protecting and showcasing active outdoor communities. “(Growth) can be very positive because, truthfully, if we’re not growing, we’re dying – or we’re moving backward, and we certainly don’t want to go back to the ’70s,” Hays said. “We have a thriving, vibrant downtown. We have a thriving, vibrant riverfront. We have multiple thriving, vibrant areas of our community beaches; all those types of things come together to make us incredibly attractive. And we certainly want to continue to be attractive, not just for new people coming in but for our current citizens.” Hays acknowledges concerns about density (as Wilmington was ranked the No. 1 city in 2020 for inbound moves in the United States by a United Van Lines study), as well as tree canopy loss, all of which come into play when balancing community resources and planning with preservation and longevity in mind. And Hays knows not everyone is going to agree with her on what that looks like. “You know, Mayfaire was fought really hard,” she said. “And it has R

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PROFILE

come to be not only one of our most recognizable areas but also one of the most well-connected communities in our county. … But I will always listen because I want to hear what that other side is, and I want to understand what their perspective is, and I want to discuss it with them. And I certainly will not make any decision based upon getting reelected.” Hays said she is firm on making evidence-based decisions while at her post for the next four years, citing the ongoing potential development site on Hooker Road, where the Timberlynn Village mobile home park once stood. The owners made two unsuccessful bids: one for a 106-unit townhome development in early 2019, then another for 86 single-family units later in the year. Eventually approved for less than 60 units, Hays said residents’ articulate opposition early made a difference. “They were not objectionable. They were OK with it being developed, but they wanted it to be developed in a similar fashion (as the rest of the area) and not something that was totally in opposition to surrounding neighborhoods,” Hays said. “They made strong, good, supportive comments about what they felt was positive for their area and that’s a big part of planning, is to ensure that there’s continuity.” A large part of 2021 and beyond will include updating information on which planning decisions are often based. With the county planning department and new director, Rebekah Roth, Hays said the county is focused on getting updated data. For example, county soil surveys date back to the 1970s, and those can impact how stormwater runoff is managed. “You can do the math – that’s a lot of years ago,” she said. “We want to make sure that we’re using up-todate information and work with that in order to make the best decisions possible. And I can tell you that our planning department is on it.”

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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

5

6

TOP10 H O M E S A L E S 0 F 2 0 2 0 PRICE

1 2

$5,500,000 $5,277,000

3

$5,000,000

3 5

$5,000,000 $4,950,000

ADDRESS

SQ FT

142 BEACH ROAD S., FIGURE EIGHT ISLAND

5,877

6

1625 FUTCH CREEK ROAD, PORTERS NECK PLANTATION

5,378

7

188 BEACH ROAD S., FIGURE EIGHT

9,195

7

6 BEACH ROAD S., FIGURE EIGHT

4,922

9

1 SURF COURT, FIGURE EIGHT

7,539

10

PRICE

ADDRESS

SQ FT

$4,550,000

2 BEACH BAY LANE E., FIGURE EIGHT

5,844

274 BEACH ROAD N., FIGURE EIGHT

5,342

413 BEACH ROAD N., FIGURE EIGHT

4,520

11 SOUTHRIDGE ROAD, WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH

5,152

264 BEACH ROAD N., FIGURE EIGHT

4,898

$4,000,000 $4,000,000 $3,895,500 $3,775,000

SOURCE: N.C. REGIONAL MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE

TOP 5 Lender IN WILMINGTON atlanticbay.com Based on 2019 Market Share Report findings. Data obtained from Home Mortgage Disclosure Act metrics as of year-end 12/31/2019. Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, L.L.C. NMLS #72043 (nmlsconsumeraccess.org) is an Equal Opportunity Lender. Located at 600 Lynnhaven Parkway Suite 203 Virginia Beach, VA 23452.

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30 Years of Trusted Guidance for community associations We strive to make our Board members’ lives easier by providing Trusted Guidance

We consistently deliver (we work hard to deliver on our commitments)

We provide state-of-the-art technology solutions

FOUNDED IN 1991 CAMS was founded in 1991 by Mike Stonestreet at a time when community associations were a relatively new concept and things like internet access and email were still years away from being the universal must-haves they are today. As you might imagine, the company and its owners have learned a few things over the years to have been in business for three decades and come out as the industry leaders.

trusted guidance

community association management services

TRUSTED GUIDANCE “Over 30 years we know what we do well and should do well and we know what we’re not so good at. We’ve developed proven processes along the way and have been able to define the key aspects of forming successful relationships with boards and communities.” said Dave Sweyer, Co-owner/CEO CAMS. “CAMS has evolved to this idea of ‘trusted guidance. We’re guiding our boards, and keeping them between the rails, making sure they’re following best practices.” said Mike Stonestreet, Founder/Co-owner CAMS. Having learned the value of doing what you do well and providing guidance, CAMS will continue to make it a priority to perfect their processes and systems to create a smooth transition into the proven processes for efficient and effective community management.

INNOVATIVE COMPANY It is clear that over the years CAMS has become an innovative management company. Even when they outgrew some older community management operating platforms, they didn't just settle for what was available. Instead, they were the initial management company to help develop the Vantaca software platform that is now being utilized by 100 other management companies nationally. CAMS' team values and experiences over the years have made them a decidedly unique organization. Just as things change and progress over the span of 30 years, so do the things that an organization finds are important at its core.

DOES YOUR COMMUNITY HAVE THE GUIDANCE IT NEEDS? Call to see what 30 years of experience can do for you! 877.672.CAMS (2267) | www.CAMSmgt.com An Accredited Association Management Company

"Given the short transition period available, it was great that CAMS had a proven transition process to get key information transferred quickly so that we had the foundation needed to begin on Day 1." - Tom Jobes, Former President Ocean Ridge Plantation

CA M S C O RE VA LUES We are here to serve We use good judgement We are here to learn & grow We take ownership


TOP15

MARKET SNAPSHOT

AGENTS in 2020 BY VOLUME for

NEW HANOVER, BRUNSWICK & PENDER COUNTIES

1

KEITH BEATTY INTRACOASTAL REALTY CORP.

2

VANCE YOUNG INTRACOASTAL REALTY CORP.

3

JERRY HELMS

SIDES*

509.5

234.5

384.5

BRUNSWICK FOREST REALTY LLC

VOLUME $

$194,681,430

$165,526,903

$109,468,610

SIDES

VOLUME $

6

HANK TROSCIANIEC & ASSOCIATES, KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY

266

$73,257,943

7

BUZZY NORTHEN, INTRACOASTAL REALTY CORP.

57

$73,085,866

8

THE CHEEK TEAM, KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY

175

$69,230,454

9

CARLA LEWIS, INTRACOASTAL REALTY CORP.

100.5

$69,070,527

10

WENDY WILMOT, WENDY WILMOT PROPERTIES

62

$68,336,550

11

KIM ANDERSON, ART SKIPPER REALTY INC.

224

$61,764,330

12

SARAH HARRIS TEAM, INTRACOASTAL REALTY CORP.

115

$60,654,814

13

KBT REALTY TEAM, KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY

202.5

$60,641,908

4

THE RISING TIDE TEAM, INTRACOASTAL REALTY CORP.

244.5

$90,666,270

14

MICHELLE CLARK, INTRACOASTAL REALTY CORP.

99.5

$58,525,140

5

NICK PHILLIPS, LANDMARK SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL REALTY

62

$73,623,198

15

TEAM HARDEE HUNT & WILLIAMS

53.5

$54,494,119

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

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SOURCE: N.C. REGIONAL MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE

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BY VOLUME

1

SIDES*

VOLUME $

AVERAGE $

COLDWELL BANKER SEA COAST ADVANTAGE

6,305.5

$1,854,173,279

$294,057

INTRACOASTAL REALTY CORP.

4,083.5

$1,788,734,130

$438,039

KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY

2,745.5

$779,662,406

$283,978

1,827

$479,973,570

$262,711

LANDMARK SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL REALTY

495

$317,909,233

$642,241

RE/MAX ESSENTIAL

883

$264,744,978

$299,824

774.5

$235,683,960

$304,305

NEST REALTY

641

$214,130,201

$334,056

MARGARET RUDD & ASSOCIATES

527

$150,870,639

$286,282

RE/MAX AT THE BEACH

520.5

$150,458,944

$289,066

ST. JAMES PROPERTIES

506

$155,361,105

$307,038

PROACTIVE REAL ESTATE

496

$143,309,313

$288,930

EXP REALTY

479

$134,584,809

$280,970

BRUNSWICK FOREST REALTY

399

$113,548,760

$284,583

376.5

$112,772,606

$299,529

2 3 4 5

CENTURY 21 SWEYER & ASSOCIATES

6 7

BLUECOAST REALTY CORP.

8

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RESIDENTIAL

REAL ESTATE FIRMS

MARKET SNAPSHOT

9

10 11 12 13 14 15

COASTAL PROPERTIES

SOURCE: N.C. REGIONAL MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE FOR NEW HANOVER, BRUNSWICK AND PENDER COUNTIES IN 2020

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

SIEGEL & RHODENHISER, PLLC ATTORNEYS AT LAW

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 OVER 60 YEARS COMBINED EXPERIENCE IN REAL ESTATE, BUSINESS, AND ESTATE PLANNING LAW.


2020

TOP20

1 2

2020 CLOSINGS

490

AVERAGE PRICE

D.R. HORTON

3

227 $362,311 LOGAN HOMES INC

4

173 $426,486 STEVENS FINE HOMES

5

146 $282,414 THE PULTE GROUP

124 $365,210 6 CLAYTON PROPERTIES GROUP INC 7

119 $347,849 H & H HOMES INC 96

2020 CLOSINGS

9

83 $250,542 HARDISON BUILDING COMPANY

10

63 $369,389 AMERICAN HOMESMITH

12 13 14

2020 CLOSINGS

AVERAGE PRICE

MCADAMS HOMES LLC

11

$288,641

RESIDENTIAL BUILDERS BY CLOSINGS N& EPWE NHDAENROCVOE RU,NBT IREUSN S W I C K

8

$245,862

BILL CLARK HOMES

MARKET SNAPSHOT

AVERAGE PRICE

15 CAVINESS & CATES COMMUNITIES

51 $320,588 REALSTAR HOMES LLC

16 17

50

$264,850 CMH HOMES INC

46

$151,543 RIPTIDE BUILDERS

59

$334,356 LGI HOMES

18

59

$256,153 MCKEE HOMES

19

42 $420,762 TRUSST BUILDERS INC (NC)

58 $302,509 PYRAMID HOMES INC (NC)

20

42 $231,050 ROBUCK HOMES INC

57

35

$219,447 TRUE HOMES

52

$432,086

SOURCE: ZONDA, CORELOGIC, COUNTY RECORDS CLOSINGS IN PENDER, BRUNSWICK AND NEW HANOVER COUNTIES, BUT NOT INCLUDING CLOSINGS UNDER ASSUMED NAMES, SPECIAL ENTITIES OR LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANIES WITH DIFFERENT NAMES

$325,644

Get AWAY, without having to go away... Bald Head Island. - OWN YOUR ESCAPE -

You want an agent who calls Bald Head Island Home

Suzanne@TiffanysBeachProperties.com • (910) 616-7951 @suzbhi

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Laura L. Harris, M.D., F.A.C.S. CATARACT CONSULTANTS, PA

Laura Harris, MD, FACS is a Johns Hopkins fellowship trained ophthalmologist and a leading cataract surgeon in North Carolina. She has published numerous scholarly articles and won prestigious awards for her innovative research and surgery. Her expertise in advanced surgical technologies, including extensive experience with the new laser-assisted cataract surgery technique, provides her patients with quality outcomes. In addition to the newest techniques, Dr. Harris and her dedicated staff offer patients personal, one-on-one care in a welcoming environment. 2014

HEALTH CARE HEROES AWARD “INNOVATION”

WE’RE PASSIONATE ABOUT PROVIDING THE BEST QUALITY CARE FOR OUR PATIENTS. While cataracts can be a natural part of aging, there is no reason to live with this potentially debilitating condition due to extraordinary advancements in surgical technology. Give us a call to see how we can get you back to once again doing the things you love.

910-256-4899 | 1135 Military Cutoff Road, Suite 201 | Wilmington, NC 28405 | www.cataractconsultants.com

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THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS

THE TAKEAWAY

photo by TERAH WILSON

J

ames Doss and Sarah Rushing Doss have spent the past several months on a DIY project converting a school bus into a customized camper. Inspired by the trend of upcycling former school buses into tiny homes – dubbed skoolies – the Dosses incorporated several ecofriendly touches from radiant heating to recycled denim insulation to solar panels. “At Rx we’re constantly striving to be more environmentally sustainable, and we’re applying that same standard to our bus conversion,” James Doss said. “Aside from the sustainable power and water systems, we also plan to run the bus off of wasted vegetable oil from Rx.” Keep an eye out next for a second bus renovation from the Rx Restaurant and Bar owners, this time for a future food truck.

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Profile for WilmBiz

WilmingtonBiz Magazine - 2021 Residential Real Estate  

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