Downtown Wilmington construction continues along Front Street
If you’re headed to downtown Wilmington this summer, it will be hard to miss the construction.
There are five major construction projects that are wrapping up, ongoing or just getting started along downtown Wilmington’s N. Front and Water Streets. Some of the projects currently underway were set to begin earlier but faced delays due to supply chain issues.
More:Where to watch July 4th fireworks in the Wilmington area
More:As Wilmington celebrates Fourth of July, here are 11 patriotic things about the area
More:Wilmington’s riverwalk looks to grow as development stretches away from downtown
From fresh pavement, sidewalks, decorative bricks and street furnishings to an intimate park with a river view nestled between two downtown buildings to new resources for those visiting the Port City, it all seems to be happening at once.
Here’s what you need to know about the construction downtown:
Status: Under construction
Budget: $3.5 million from a transportation bond
Timeframe: Construction is expected to be completed by October
Scope: New utilities, pavement, granite curbing, sidewalks, decorative bricks, lighting, landscaping and street furnishings between Chestnut and Walnut Streets
Perhaps the most noticeable construction is happening along N. Front Street.
The street’s 200 block is currently closed to traffic as contractor T.A. Loving repairs underground utilities for the city of Wilmington. Repairs on the utilities are 95% complete, according to city spokesperson Dylan Lee.
Workers will soon begin installing granite curbing. The project’s scope includes installing the new utilities along with new pavement, curbing, sidewalks, decorative bricks, lighting and landscaping, according to Lee.
Work on the two-block project is expected to move to the 300 block of N. Front Street by late July. The work was originally scheduled to begin in the fall of 2021 but was delayed so work didn’t coincide with the holiday shopping season.
When the project was set to begin in January 2022, the city’s contractor couldn’t get the pipes needed for the project due to supply chain issues, and work was delayed until April, according to Lee.
Although the city is working with the Downtown Business Alliance and Wilmington Downtown Inc. to ensure sidewalks remain open and businesses are accessible, some business owners have noticed a drop in their usual summertime foot traffic.
If work on the project had been delayed until January 2023, the city would have to re-bid the project, which could result in cost increases, Lee wrote in an email to the StarNews.
Status: Under construction
Scope: A renovation with new landscape features and other upgrades
Timeframe: The project is set to wrap up in July
Renovations to Bijou Park are nearing the end. The pocket park in the 200 block of N. Front Street is sandwiched between two downtown buildings and located near apartment and condo building River Place.
The park area is fenced off to foot traffic, but renovations are visible with a new sign that arches over the park’s entrance, new seating and a wall lined with potted plants.
The city of Wilmington project aims to make the park a “signature open space that connects Front Street to River Place and Water Street,” according to Lee.
Approximately 95% of the project was finished in early May, but supply chain delays have meant contractors haven’t been able to get the electrical materials needed to open the park to the public. Overhead lighting is expected to be delivered and installed in July.
Status: Construction getting underway
Scope: A renovation of the area’s existing outdoor pavilion area, including the installation of string lighting and Riverwalk elements like seasonal banners, observation stools, railings and signage
Timeframe: Construction is set to begin in mid-July and wrap up in November
Work on the riverfront visitor’s center has yet to start, but the Wilmington City Council awarded a construction contract for the project at its June 7 meeting.
The project will renovate the center’s outdoor pavilion area, which will, according to Lee, allow for more flexible and open space. The project will also add string lighting and other elements present in other areas of the Riverwalk, including banners, flags, observation stools, railings and signage.
This city of Wilmington project aims to promote tourism and public safety, restore riverfront views and provide flexible open space, according to Lee. Work on the project is expected to begin in mid-July and finish in November.
The visitor’s center and public bathrooms are expected to remain open during construction.
U.S. Coast Guard bulkhead
Status: Work wrapping up
Budget: Approximately $9 million, including $6.7 million in 2018 Hurricane Relief Funding
Scope: Repair of bulkhead wall and installation of a new concrete platform along Water Street between Market and Princess Streets
Timeframe: Bulkhead repairs are complete, and the site is being cleaned up in the next few weeks.
Those massive cranes along the waterfront dipping into the Cape Fear River — they were finishing what is the biggest project here budget-wise, the delicate, sometimes underwater repairs to the retaining wall that runs along the Wilmington side of the river.
The U.S. Coast Guard has completed its repairs on its bulkhead, which runs along Water Street.
The work, which has been ongoing since 2019, fortified the U.S. Coast Guard’s bulkhead, which supports the land along Water Street and Water Street Park.
Repairs on the bulkhead are complete and Wilmington-based contractor Burgess Corporation is working to clean up the site over the next few weeks, according to Lee.
The project was delayed during its construction due to more extensive damage to the sheet pile wall than anticipated, underground debris and funding issues.
Alton Lennon Federal Building
Status: Under construction
Budget: $31 million in 2019 disaster relief funding
Scope: Repairs, including roof and window replacements, building façade repairs, mechanical system replacement, interior finish repairs
Timeframe: Construction complete by spring 2024
Repairs to Wilmington’s federal courthouse are still underway.
The work, which started last year, is repairing significant damage caused by Hurricane Florence, including roof and window replacements, repairs to the building’s façade, replacing the building’s mechanical systems and repairs to interior finishes.
The project is set to be finished by spring 2024, but impacts to Water Street should be completed next summer, according to Lee.
Reporter Emma Dill can be reached at 910-343-2096 or [email protected].