a NEW UPTOWN PLANS FOR THE NORTH END OF THE RIVERWALK INCLUDE SHOPS, RESTAURANTS AND RESIDENCES B y L i s a H i l l North of the Wilmington Convention Center, a previously underdeveloped part of the riverfront is bustling with exciting plans and new con-struction. The City of Wilmington and several commercial and real estate developers hope to make this side of downtown an urban enclave where people will live, eat, work, play and shop. New amenities, including a boutique hotel, res-taurants, city park and urban residences, will begin to open to the public late this summer and into 2017. The area’s resurgence began in 2010 with the construction of the convention center that draws thousands of visitors each year. Next, in 2015, the Humanities and Fine Arts Center at Cape Fear Community College opened and began to attract arts and entertainment traffic to the area. City planners and developers envision a transformation much like what occurred at the southern end of downtown, which transi-tioned from an industrial area to one now lined with shops, restau-rants and vibrant nightlife. “Wilmington didn’t start to take advantage of the river views till 30 years ago when the Riverwalk was created,” says Charles H. Boney Jr., vice president and principal at LS3P and one of the area’s leading architects. Dylan Lee, spokesman for the City of Wilmington, says the predominant theme of the city’s Vision 2020 Plan is to enhance the entire area along the Cape Fear, which is the top tourist attraction for the city. In 2014, Wilmington was voted USA Today’s Best American Riverfront. “That’s our most unique and our most significant asset,” Lee says, “so we want to make sure we maintain pedestrian access to the river and that we maintain good views of the water.” Toward this end, the city has invested resources to build out the northern section of the Riverwalk. When the remaining walkway is opened the Riverwalk will stretch 1.75 miles from Chandler’s Wharf on the south end to the Isabel Holmes Bridge in the north, extending the opportunity for visitors to stroll, shop, dine, exercise and learn about Wilmington history from historical markers. And it will serve to connect historical downtown to contemporary prop-erties being developed north of downtown. An artist’s rendering of Pier 33 Apartments, the planned apartment complex adjacent to the Port City Marina, gives a hint of what the northern end of downtown will look like within a couple of years. 82 WBM june 2016 DESIGNS RENDERED, INC.
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