Government Center Redevelopment
New Hanover County’s Government Center, located at 230 Government Center Drive in Wilmington, NC, is nearing completion, with the new building set to open in early 2023. Visitors who need to access services at the Government Center should continue to park in the South entrance lot off of Government Center Drive and enter through the South entrance doors. Once the new building opens, visitor parking and information will be announced.
During the construction of this new facility, county services have remained operational in the current Government Center building and in early 2023, they will be moved directly into the new building, to ensure continuity of services.
After the new facility is complete, the entire Government Center site will be redeveloped and will not only include a newly-designed facility for county offices with an Emergency Operations and 911 Center, but also a new community greenspace, Board of Elections building, and private development that will generate additional tax revenue for the city and county.
The Government Center was originally constructed as a single-story retail shopping center in 1989 and the county bought and renovated the building beginning in 2002. The approximate size of the building is 136,654 square feet and the total acreage of the lot is 15.01 acres.
Because of the age of the structure and amount of unusable and inefficient space that exists, it has become expensive to operate and would require a significant amount in additional maintenance and repair investments over the next 20 years. The building also has workspace inefficiencies for county staff, is difficult for customers to navigate, and has an inefficient environmental footprint.
In addition, the Emergency Operations and 911 center is a third of its needed size to accommodate the essential emergency staff that respond during a disaster, and it's important that it is enhanced and made more resilient.
In June 2020, the Board of Commissioners approved the development agreement for the site and in February 2021, the Local Government Commission approved the debt financing for the public facility. Construction on the new Government Center began in March 2021 and is expected to be complete in early 2023.
Under the approved Development Agreement (PDF), the county will own the new Government Center building and enter into a twenty-year public debt to finance the construction of the facility, along with fixtures and furnishings. The county will retain ownership of the land where a new Government Center is built and sell the remaining land (approximately 7.5 acres of the total 15.01 acres) to the developer for the construction of a mixed-use residential and commercial development at a price of $8.84 per square foot.
Cape Fear FD Stonewater, LLC will manage the construction of both the public and private facilities on the site; and the private development will include residential and commercial mixed use that will continue to generate tax revenue in perpetuity without any additional cost to the county.
The estimated costs and expenses for the public building is $45,942,827.
- August 12, 2019: New Hanover County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution authorizing the county to send out a request for qualifications for a public-private partnership.
- August 30, 2019: Request for Qualifications released
- October 22, 2019: Deadline for Receipt of Statements of Qualifications
- November-January: Internal review of proposals
- January 21, 2020: Commissioners voted to move forward with a development team that consists of a joint venture partnership between GHK Cape Fear Development and FD Stonewater, local architectural firm LS3P Associates and engineer SEPI. And the county entered into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the developer.
- January-June 2020: Programing phase of the project with the development team and the county's internal project team (this included a program assessment outlining the county's needs, the development and management structure including the proposed funding structure of the project, and preliminary design work for the project).
- June 15, 2020: The initial development agreement was presented to the Board of Commissioners and a public hearing held, with Commissioners voting to proceed with the redevelopment.
- January 19, 2021: A revised development agreement was presented to the Board of Commissioners, and the board held a public hearing and approved the final Development Agreement (PDF) for the Government Center redevelopment.
- February 2, 2021: The North Carolina Local Government Commission approved New Hanover County's debt financing of the new Government Center.
- March, 2021: Construction began on the Government Center building, Emergency Operations, and 911 Center
- November 2022: The new building was dedicated by the Board of Commissioners, with final move in expected after the remaining electrical components are received
- February 2023: tentative ribbon cutting and move into new Government Center, followed by demolition of existing Government Center and groundbreaking for park
Per the development agreement, the private development on the site would begin no later than two years after the sale of the land to the developer. Phase 1 of the private development includes a mixed use development with workforce housing and Phase 2 includes commercial/office use (note: Phase 2 would begin no later than seven years after the sale of the land to the developer).
Vision for the Project
The vision for the project is:
- Purpose-built, energy-efficient facility that is built for its intended purpose and will serve the county well into the future.
- Customer-focused design, where the public is greeted and helped at one easy-to-find place to access the services they need.
- Efficient operations for employees and customers, for how the county does business today and well into the future.
- Resilient, safe, and secure building to meet the demands and needs of New Hanover County during storm events and other emergencies.
- Mindful stewardship of the public’s resources, and direct alignment with the county’s Strategic Plan and Model of Good Governance
- Increased tax base by partnering with the private sector to develop a mixed-use commercial and residential site, with affordable housing.
During the construction of a new county facility, county services will remain operational in the current Government Center building and will be moved directly into the new building once it is finished, to ensure continuity of services.
Public Private Partnership
New Hanover County is working with Cape Fear FD Stonewater, LLC, a development company, in a public-private partnership to redevelop the 15-acre property. This places the risk and management responsibility for the development on the developer, so the county can capture the potential and value of the site, decrease the county's risk in redeveloping on our own, and also bring tax revenue to the county and city.
According to the Urban Land Institute, "Public-private partnerships are considered "creative alliances" formed between a government entity and private developers to create a common purpose." This kind of partnership builds collaborative relationships, allows sharing of resources, minimizes the county's risk, creates greater efficiencies, and furthers the community's economic development potential.
Below are professional associations focused on public-private partnerships: