NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – The Local Government Commission (LGC), which oversees local government’s finances, failed to approve New Hanover County’s lease agreement with Zimmer Development for Project Grace. The LGC staff recommended approval of the lease agreement, however the LGC did not accept staff’s recommendation.
Project Grace is a public-private partnership to redevelop a 3-acre county-owned block in downtown Wilmington to build a purpose-built Public Library adjoining a modern Cape Fear Museum, with private development that includes workforce housing, a hotel, and retail spaces.
“We appreciate the LGC’s consideration of the financials for this project and the LGC staff’s thoroughness and recommendation for approval, and we are certainly disappointed in the outcome,” said County Manager Chris Coudriet. “This public private partnership would have ensured that the county could control the uses on the entire block so they are complimentary to what our community vision is, while also bringing in tax revenue through the private investment in a well-timed and expeditious way for the community’s benefit. At this time, based on board actions to date, the county still plans to move forward with a new state-of the-art museum and library, it will just be in a different structure and will not have the same near-term transformation of the full block that we had hoped for.”
The county will purchase the full design and construction documents for the library and museum facility at a cost of $2.5 million from Zimmer Development, as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding amendment. Then the county will assess next steps, including the cost of issuing debt to build the facility and the timeframe for when to proceed. As additional information is known, the community will continue to be kept informed.