DOWNTOWN WILMINGTON By Amanda Lisk THERE were 122 Realtor-assisted sales in downtown Wilmington in 2020, matching the number from the previous year.
Those sales saw a $1 million increase in total sales volume; $25.7 million for 2020 compared to $24.7 million in 2019.
Nearly half of the downtown closings were for River Place, a new waterfront luxury high-rise condominium located on Water
and Grace streets overlooking the Cape Fear River.
Seventy-six condos and/or apartments closed there in
2020, many of which went under contract in 2019 and closed upon
completion of the 13-story building. The top sale was a penthouse,
which sold for $1,035,000 in July.
“River Place has created a lot of confidence in downtown Wilmington,
it’s spurred on other developments and renovations of buildings,” says
Keith Beatty of Intracoastal Realty, the lead broker for the condo-minium.
Other significant downtown sales include the McClammy-Powell
House, a circa 1914 neoclassical, brick revival on South Front Street in
the heart of the historic district, which sold for $990,000 in January.
The original owner was Richard McClammy, editor and publisher of
the Evening Dispatch. Grocer Carl Powell and his wife, Edith Corbett
Powell, purchased the home in 1948.
A unique three-story, free-standing building on Water Street in the
Chandler’s Wharf area, designed for mixed-use, sold on April 6 for
$925,000. The building at 219 South Water Street was originally a
one-story brick warehouse, part of the Hanover Iron Works Complex.
Sam Simmons, owner of Port City Properties, was the listing and
selling broker of the building and also the previous owner.
Simmons designed the renovation and addition on a napkin while at
dinner when he purchased the warehouse in 2008. With the help of an
architect, Simmons preserved the historic brick outer shell and built up
to create a three-story mixed-use building. The top floor is a penthouse
apartment. The first and second floors can be used for either residential
or commercial space.
“People really want to be downtown, there’s a vibrant scene here,
people like that they are able to walk and dine,” Simmons says.
Simmons says affordability in downtown compared to other areas of
Wilmington is playing a role in downtown growth.
“Things that are priced fairly are getting a lot of interest,” he says.
“Many of the sales I was involved in had competing offers. My last clos-ing
of the year had six offers.”
Beatty says River Place closings were primarily for residents coming
from a 45-mile radius, as well as a few moving in from bigger cities such
as New York City and Chicago.
“With the opening of the park and amphitheater in the spring or
summer North Waterfront Park, that will really be a catalyst for
future development and housing and vibrancy for the downtown area,”
From trendy high-rises to historic charm, buyers are drawn to
downtown Wilmington for a variety of reasons. Top to bottom, left
to right: A view of Wilmington’s historic district and 423 S. Front
Street (bottom middle); 219 S. Water Street; 423 S. Front Street
interior and exterior; River Place luxury high-rise.
Counterintuitively, the 2020 real estate market
was one of the strongest ever
Opinion by Randall J. Williams
A virus ravages the globe. Our nation endures
social upheaval and acrimonious polarization
not seen since the 1960s. We stifle the hottest
economy in years with a self-inflicted wound.
We suffer through one of the most miserable
presidential campaigns on record.
The flying class, which jumps on airplanes
like millennials jump in an Uber, is suddenly
grounded. High-tech, Class A office space
sits vacant while the lucky-to-be-employed
video-conference from home in their jammies
while drinking lattes. Desperate service workers
languish while politicians who never miss a
paycheck bicker over how to firehose another
trillion dollars into a hobbled economy to miti-gate
And yet, somehow it manifests itself as the
hottest real estate market since the ’05-’07 boom.
I’m just a Realtor, not an economist. But if
you coop people up long enough in a stressful
environment, combined with very low interest
rates and copious liquidity coursing through the
system, and you mix in ample angst, you might
find yourself in a hot market.
It confirms to me that residential real estate,
as an asset class, has an intrinsic appeal to
people on a visceral level not necessarily driven
by reason or quantitative analyses. Emotion
becomes an integral component of its valuation.
Its tangibility only reinforces its desirability.
Ownership is powerful.
I would predict that it’s going to rock on into
the first quarter.
Randall J. Williams is the Broker-in-Charge at
Hardee Hunt and Williams Real Estate.