Current Issues

Historic preservation is not a passive practice. That’s why we are committed to actively advocating for preserving and protecting our region’s irreplaceable historic resources. Watch this page for updates on various city, county and regional issues that affect our built history and historic communities. 

CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE REPLACEMENT

Because this bridge and any changes to it will impact historic neighborhoods, HWF is carefully monitoring the potential replacement project. We urge you to stay involved, and will share information here.

The NC Department of Transportation has recently completed a feasibility study for the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge’s replacement, identifying four possibilities for a new crossing. All four options are located just south of the current vertical-lift, four-lane steel bridge, which opened in 1969. They share the same basic layout: six 12-foot lanes (three in each direction) divided by a 22-foot median, and 12-foot outside shoulders. Each option also includes a 15-foot separated path for pedestrians and bicycles. 

Feasibility Study documents:
     1) SUMMARY
     2) MAPS
                    – OPTION 1
: Fixed span with a 65-foot vertical clearance, $196.6 million
                    – OPTION 2: Fixed span with a 135-foot vertical clearance, $245.7 million
                    – OPTION 3: Movable span with a 65-foot vertical clearance, $487.7 million
                    – OPTION 4: Movable span with a 65-foot vertical clearance and railroad component, $608.7 million
                                    * The rail option is part of Wilmington’s rail realignment plan and would require a partnership between the City, NC DOT and others. 
     3) PROJECT INITIATION FORM
     4) SCOPING CHECKLIST

On July 7, 2020, Chad Kimes, Division 3 Engineer for the NC DOT, will join us at noon to discuss plans for the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge replacement. We encourage you to join us! Location TBD. 


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CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS

Historic Wilmington Foundation released the following statement on June 9, 2020. 

Historic Wilmington Foundation (HWF) supports the lawful and safe removal of the George Davis monument at Third and Market as well as the Wilmington Confederate monument at Third and Dock. These artworks do not represent the values of the City of Wilmington or this organization. It is HWF’s hope that the monuments will be relocated to a location where they may be preserved, interpreted, contextualized, and used expressly for educational purposes, rather than to continue to serve as visual public reminders of racial injustice.

FAQs:

Q. Where would the monuments go?
A. Both the state and the city will help contribute to that decision. According to North Carolina statutes, relocation of monuments would need to be to a “place of equal prominence.”

Q. Does the Historic Wilmington Foundation have the authority to move the monuments?
A. This organization does not have the authority to move the monuments.

Q. If the monuments are moved, what will be different about them?
A. Preservation doesn’t necessarily mean “honor.” Relocating confederate monuments means reinterpreting them, too. More than the name and title of the subjects represented, contextualizing addresses when and why the statues were erected–in this case, during the Jim Crow era and to tout racist ideology. Interpretation and contextualizing is typically done through signage, but can also include tours, other artwork and literature at the site.

Q. What does the National Trust for Historic Preservation think about this issue?
A. On June 18, 2020, the National Trust posted on their website, “Although Confederate monuments are sometimes designated as historic, and while many were erected more than a century ago, the National Trust supports their removal from our public spaces when they continue to serve the purposes for which many were built—to glorify, promote, and reinforce white supremacy, overtly or implicitly. While some have suggested that removal may result in erasing history, we believe that removal may be necessary to achieve the greater good of ensuring racial justice and equality.” For the full statement, click here.

Q. When will the monuments be relocated?
A. While conversations are ongoing, at this time there are no plans to relocate the monuments. Please watch this page for updates.

Q. Will Historic Wilmington Foundation be making statements about other local monuments?
A. Currently, the organization is focusing only on the two statues downtown at Third and Market and Third and Dock streets.

 

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RAIL REALIGNMENT

The rail realignment project could have an influence on the city’s historic fabric. We’re keeping up to speed on it and hope you will, too.

The City of Wilmington’s Rail Realignment Project proposes the replacement and improvement of the existing freight rail route between Navassa (Davis) Yard and the Port of Wilmington by creating a new, shorter route. Once a new freight route is in operation, the City has proposed repurposing the existing route for public use.


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PROJECT GRACE

This proposed county development would demolish two old buildings, one of which is a contributing structure to the downtown historic district. 

Project Grace is the name for the potential redevelopment of a New Hanover County-owned block in downtown Wilmington. The block includes the main branch of the New Hanover County Public Library (Belk-Beery building, 1951) and the former Register of Deeds building (Borst building, 1926), along with a parking deck and surface parking lots. Current plans for the project propose demolishing both historic buildings for the purpose of developing a taller structure, possibly with condominiums and apartments, as well as offices and retail space.

To be clear, Historic Wilmington Foundation is not anti-development. HWF has never opposed building on the Project Grace parcel, and we honor Appropriate New Construction projects annually at our Preservation Awards. Very simply, we do not believe that the only two old buildings on the Project Grace parcel need to be demolished for the County to realize its vision of a more robust block. 

The Belk-Beery building–square with a brick façade and long, low windows–is one of just a handful of mid-century buildings downtown. The Borst building, a contributing historic structure in the National Register of Historic Places, was Wilmington’s first Chrysler dealership and one of several dealerships comprising downtown’s historic “Automobile Row” on Second Street. Currently, the building is used by emergency services.

Unlike many structures that come to HWF’s attention, the library isn’t crumbling or abandoned. Built in 1951 as a Belk’s, this brick structure has weathered several hurricanes, and thrives as an example of the National Trust’s Reurbanism initiative. (Reurbanism means that adaptive reuse should be the default, demolition a last resort.)

CLICK HERE to read HWF’s Executive Director Beth Rutledge’s statement regarding the Project Grace project, outlining HWF’s stance

While Project Grace has been on pause for several months, we understand that a new plan may soon be unveiled. Please watch this space for details.


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