Government Center Redevelopment
New Hanover County's new Government Center opened to the public on Monday, April 3
The new building is located at 230 Government Center Drive in Wilmington, NC, directly next to the location of old Government Center building. It has been designed and built to serve our customers, with a front service counter, inviting lobby, and accessible meeting rooms for our team to assist the community.
Customers seeking county services enter the public entrance at front of the building and visit the customer service counter. All services and departments are available at the counter. Parking is available in the lot immediately next to the new building, adjacent to College Road.
Starting mid-April, the entire old Government Center site will be redeveloped and will include a new community greenspace, Board of Elections building, and private development that will generate additional tax revenue for the city and county.
The original 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 existed, it became expensive to operate and would have required a significant amount in additional maintenance and repair investments over the next 20 years. The building also had workspace inefficiencies for county staff, was difficult for customers to navigate, and had an inefficient environmental footprint. In addition, the Emergency Operations and 911 centers were a third of their needed size to accommodate the essential emergency staff that respond during a disaster. And it was of utmost importance to enhance those spaces and make them more resilient.
So, 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. And construction on the new Government Center began in March 2021.
During construction of the new facility, county services have remained operational and are being moved directly into the new building, to ensure continuity of services.
The new Government Center is a more efficient use of office space and is designed and built to be customer friendly and resilient during emergencies and disasters. Here are a few of the new features:
- Built to modern building and energy code, with back-up power and a purpose-built and hardened Emergency Operations Center and 911 Center that can withstand wind loads of up to 165 mph – helping to ensure the county's emergency operations can continue in the height of any disaster.
- An accessible front customer counter on the first floor, where the public can be helped quickly and easily and meet with county staff in a warm and inviting environment. Also included on the first floor are multiple meeting rooms that can be reconfigured to accommodate a variety of meeting sizes, trainings, and county events
- Secure employee areas with a floorplan that allows for departments to be adjacent to one another, creating greater collaboration and efficiencies.
- A front greenspace area will be constructed over the coming months, and will include public art and a gathering space, as well as environmental opportunities for infiltration and nutrient uptake in a storm water feature, along with public educational benefits.
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 is managing 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: Dedication of the new building by the Board of Commissioners
- March 2023: Transition and move into new Government Center
- April 2023: New building opening, 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).
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: