Contributed by Paul Buckman, REALTOR
The beauty and grandeur of Wilmington, NC is not only rooted in its thriving historic downtown area, but enhanced by the two major beaches in New Hanover County, and rapidly expanding suburban areas. No longer a sleepy Southern town, Wilmington boasts an international airport, a seaport, and a state college, The University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Often referred to as "Hollywood East," Wilmington has an established film industry anchored by EUE/Screen Gems Studios.
Geographically nestled between the Cape Fear River and Atlantic Ocean, Wilmington has long been thought of as an undiscovered gem on the East Coast. However, the secret is starting to get out. Here are some of the accolades and recognitions given to Wilmington, NC over the last few years:
"Best Waterfront City," USA Today's 10 Best Reader Choice Awards (2014)
#5 on small set of "America's Smartest Cities," Forbes magazine (2014)
#13 on "Best Housing Markets for the Next Five Years," Business Insider (2013)
#7 on "Most Fun, Affordable City," Bloomberg Businessweek (2011)
#4 on "Next Big Things (America's Best Towns)," Outsider magazine (2011)
#13 on "Best Places for Business & Careers," Forbes magazine (2009)
#7 on "Top 10 Cities: Where to Buy Now," CNN Money magazine (2006)
Among the "100 Best Small Art Towns in America," as described by John Villani (1994, 1996, 1998, 2005 published editions)
The downtown area of Wilmington, NC is undergoing an aggressive revitalization effort backed by commercial development and the rehabilitation of residential homes. The Wilmington Downtown Incorporated firm has over a dozen projects underway in the district, valued at approximately $208 billion. This is expected to drastically change the face of downtown Wilmington over the next 18 months. One of the most exciting, and largest of the proposed projects, is the Northern Riverfront and Marina, which will include a six-story luxury apartment complex. This 11-acre site on the waterfront will be able to accommodate 200 boats (up to 100' long), with full service slips, new restaurants and shops. Other projects include a new Northern Waterfront Park, a 1500 seat performance hall, a new office complex, and new residential condo complex.
With at least 600 new residential units planned, Wilmington's downtown population could see a 29% jump in growth in the near future. Office space and residential housing demand is expected to rise over the next 24 months, as these projects come to fruition. There are currently 800 businesses located in the historic downtown district; more residential units will draw more businesses, which will increase interest in this area over time. Since PPD built the first commercial high rise downtown in 2007, the number of science and technology jobs downtown has grown from 386 to 2144 in the last 3 years. While downtown Wilmington is just one of the pockets of growth in our area, this is sure to be a major factor in the cultivation of jobs, and subsequent demand for residential properties in the area over the next several years.
Since the year 2000, the population in Wilmington has grown almost 20%, making it the second fastest growing metro area in the state (behind only the capital, Raleigh), increasing about 2% annually. This growth rate will certainly continue to sustain the need for residential properties as people continue to discover the unmatched charm and relocate to Wilmington, NC.