Government Center Redevelopment
Construction is almost complete on New Hanover County’s new Government Center, located at 230 Government Center Drive in Wilmington, NC. The county has partnered with Cape Fear FD Stonewater, Thomas Construction, and LS3P on this new facility, and it is expected to open in early 2023.
The fully redeveloped site will include a newly-designed facility for county offices with an Emergency Operations and 911 Center, as well as private development on the site that will generate additional tax revenue for the city and county.
During construction, county services will remain operational in the current Government Center building and visitors who need to access services can continue to do so by parking in the South entrance lot off of Government Center Drive and entering through the South entrance doors.
The Government Center was originally constructed as a single-story retail shopping center in 1989 and the county bought and renovated the building beginning in 2002. The approximate size of the building is 136,654 square feet and the total acreage of the lot is 15.01 acres.
Because of the age of the structure and amount of unusable and inefficient space that exists, it has become expensive to operate and would require a significant amount in additional maintenance and repair investments over the next 20 years. The building also has workspace inefficiencies for county staff, is difficult for customers to navigate, and has an inefficient environmental footprint.
In addition, the Emergency Operations and 911 center is a third of its needed size to accommodate the essential emergency staff that respond during a disaster, and it must be enhanced and made more resilient.
In early 2021, the Board of Commissioners approved the development agreement for the site and the Local Government Commission approved the debt financing for the Government Center building, so construction began in March.
County operations are expected to begin from the new building in early 2021, without any interruption to ongoing services.
The vision for the project is:
- Purpose-built, energy-efficient facility that is built for its intended purpose and will serve the county well into the future.
- Customer-focused design, where the public is greeted and helped at one easy-to-find place to access the services they need.
- Efficient operations for employees and customers, for how the county does business today and well into the future.
- Resilient, safe, and secure building to meet the demands and needs of New Hanover County during storm events and other emergencies.
- Mindful stewardship of the public’s resources, and direct alignment with the county’s Strategic Plan and Model of Good Governance
- Increased tax base by partnering with the private sector to develop a mixed-use commercial and residential site, with affordable housing.
During the construction of a new county facility, county services will remain operational in the current Government Center building and will be moved directly into the new building once it is finished, to ensure continuity of services.
Under the approved development agreement, the county will own the new Government Center building and enter into a twenty-year public debt to finance the construction of the facility, along with fixtures and furnishings. The county will retain ownership of the land where a new Government Center is built and sell the other half of its land (approximately 7.5 acres of the total 15.01 acres) to the developer for the construction of a mixed-use residential and commercial development at a price of $8.84 per square foot.
Cape Fear FD Stonewater, LLC will manage the construction of both the public and private facilities on the site; and the private development will include residential and commercial mixed use that will continue to generate tax revenue in perpetuity without any additional cost to the county.
The estimated costs and expenses for the public facility is $45,942,827.
Below are conceptual design renderings and the layout of the new Government Center building.
- August 12, 2019: New Hanover County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution authorizing the county to send out a request for qualifications for a public-private partnership.
- August 30, 2019: Request for Qualifications released
- October 22, 2019: Deadline for Receipt of Statements of Qualifications
- November-January: Internal review of proposals
- January 21, 2020: Commissioners voted to move forward with a development team that consists of a joint venture partnership between GHK Cape Fear Development and FD Stonewater, local architectural firm LS3P Associates and engineer SEPI. And the county entered into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the developer.
- January-June 2020: Programing phase of the project with the development team and the county’s internal project team (this included a program assessment outlining the county’s needs, the development and management structure including the proposed funding structure of the project, and preliminary design work for the project).
- June 15, 2020: The initial development agreement was presented to the Board of Commissioners and a public hearing held, with Commissioners voting to proceed with the redevelopment.
- January 19, 2021: A revised development agreement was presented to the Board of Commissioners, and the board held a public hearing and approved the final development agreement for the Government Center redevelopment.
- February 2, 2021: The North Carolina Local Government Commission approved New Hanover County’s debt financing of the new Government Center.
- March, 2021: Construction begins on the Government Center building, Emergency Operations, and 911 Center
- November 2022: Dedication of the new Government Center
- Early 2023: Operations move into the new building with a grand opening for the public
- Mid 2023: Following the opening of the new Government Center, the old structure will be demolished and a groundbreaking will be held for the new community greenspace that will be next to the new building
Per the development agreement, the private development on the site would begin no later than two years after the sale of the land to the developer. Phase 1 of the private development includes a mixed use development with workforce housing and Phase 2 includes commercial/office use (note: Phase 2 would begin no later than seven years after the sale of the land to the developer).
New Hanover County is working with Cape Fear FD Stonewater, LLC, a development company, in a public-private partnership to redevelop the 15-acre property. This places the risk and management responsibility for the development on the developer, so the county can capture the potential and value of the site, decrease the county’s risk in redeveloping on our own, and also bring tax revenue to the county and city.
According to the Urban Land Institute, “Public-private partnerships are considered “creative alliances” formed between a government entity and private developers to create a common purpose.” This kind of partnership builds collaborative relationships, allows sharing of resources, minimizes the county’s risk, creates greater efficiencies, and furthers the community’s economic development potential.
Below are professional associations focused on public-private partnerships: