NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County has released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to interested project teams for Project Grace, which is a potential redevelopment opportunity of a three-acre county-owned block in downtown Wilmington. The block is bordered by Grace, Third, Chestnut, and Second streets and currently includes the county’s Main Public Library, a parking deck, and several underutilized surface parking lots.
In October 2017, after a feasibility study, consultant research, and public input, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners decided to move Project Grace to the next phase and explore the options of entering into a public-private partnership for the redevelopment of the downtown block.
The Commissioners outlined several key priorities for the project, and project team proposals must: capture the full market potential of the site, include a modern Public Library and Cape Fear Museum on the block, provide usable green space, include a pedestrian-friendly design and accommodate traffic and bus transportation, and have sufficient parking for both public and private uses. The design must also compliment the surrounding buildings and not exceed the City of Wilmington’s height limit for the block. The current library services would also need to be maintained in downtown Wilmington should a construction or renovation project take place.
“New Hanover County is issuing a RFQ as a first step in the proposal process to ensure we have the most qualified project teams for this potential public-private partnership,” said County Manager Chris Coudriet. “The Commissioners outlined a clear vision for this downtown block, and we are eager to see the creativity and innovation that the private sector will bring to this project.”
The RFQ was released to the development community on April 30, 2018 and submissions are due June 15, 2018. Based on qualifications, the top qualified firms will be invited to submit a full development proposal by December 2018. At that time, a thorough review, including public input, will take place.
The county will conduct a separate study to determine the future use of the existing Cape Fear Museum site, and that study is not part of this solicitation process.
A full timeline and additional information can be viewed on the Project Grace website.