New residential developments could add more than 800 lots in New Hanover
Star-News (Wilmington, NC), 2014-02-20
Feb. 20--Five residential developments planned in New Hanover County could add more than 800 lots to a supply that has tightened as demand for new homes has increased.
New Hanover County's Technical Review Committee on Wednesday conditionally approved plans for two of three new subdivisions and extensions on two older ones.
Those subdivisions could help solve a problem for builders. What they need, they say, are finished lots in the county -- those with infrastructure in place such as water, sewer and roads.
Local and national builders have snapped up finished lots around Wilmington in the last few years, many of them at bargain prices out of bankruptcies.
Now that supply is drying up.
"The inventory for recorded vacant lots is continuing to shrink," said Sam Burgess, the county's senior planner.
But "there has been a positive movement toward a little more residential subdivision proposals coming in," he said.
"I've got several on deck for the Technical Review Committee later this month or in March."
Burgess said new proposals waiting in the wings are notable especially considering the time of year, and "it looks promising heading into spring."
A central reason for a diminishing lot supply has been the lack of bank financing to buy and develop raw land.
Burgess said developers are using creative financing to start their projects.
Brian Thomas is financing his developments out of his own pocket.
"I just paid the bank off for all the property, because they were not interested in continuing" the relationship, said Thomas, who is developing Marsh Landing Place in the Porters Neck area.
"I don't want to live in fear if the next year they decide they don't want to do business with me," he added.
The five developments the county is considering include Thomas' project.
Marsh Landing Place
Thomas received re-approval for two years of a site plan for 29 lots for the second phase of his development between the Marsh Oaks and Bayview subdivisions off the 7800 block of Market Street.
But it comes even before Phase 1 is finished.
There are 23 lots out of 41 to be built on in the first phase and he won't put infrastructure in for Phase 2 until he gets that number down to eight to 10 lots, Thomas said.
Marsh Landing Place Phase 1 has garden homes from 2,000 to 3,000 square feet on quarter-acre lots. It's catering to downsizing retirees, Thomas said. Prices are $299,000 to $399,000.
Phase 2 will be the same sort of architecture but maybe a little larger, he said.
Private equity is financing the Emmart's Landing on the Sound development near 5200 Masonboro Road, said Jeffrey Keeter, agent for SEL Property Investors, the development company.
SEL won approval with conditions Wednesday of a 159-lot site plan on 75 acres of raw land for single-family homes.
Emmart's Landing is north of the Masonboro Harbor subdivision and was formerly known as the Aqua Vista Christmas tree farm.
The projected sales release date is in the October-November time frame, Keeter said.
Development will occur in phases, he said, and Logan Developers will be the exclusive builder.
The county commissioners have approved a special-use permit for a 75-slip community boating facility that would tie in to an existing channel, Keeter said.
While some developers want to try to capture the strong buying market now, others want to be ready when the time is right.
Another developer won conditional approval Wednesday of a preliminary site plan for 42 residential lots on 11.43 acres. Adam's Landing will go up near 4800 Carolina Beach Road, close to Monkey Junction, said Jimmy Walker, the project's co-owner.
The property -- now occupied by an old brick house and rundown trailers, Walker said -- is not yet developed, but was rezoned in November to allow for the lots. Sewer already runs across the property, he said, and water is across Carolina Beach Road.
"We are hoping to start construction in March," Walker said.
Scotts Hill Village
On a larger scale, Dominion Land Corp. sought approval of a preliminary site plan for the 226-lot Scotts Hill Village development near 9100 Market St. Consideration was continued until the Feb. 26 Technical Review Committee meeting.
A time frame for the work is not set, said Candi Alexander, development coordinator for partner Sanco Homes.
"Whether the project goes ahead will depend on how the market's doing," she said. "There aren't enough developed lots in nice neighborhoods that are close to conveniences. This is in a good location, especially with the medical facilities going into that area."
New Hanover Regional Medical Center plans to build a freestanding emergency department at 9110 Market St., next to the proposed subdivision. The facility comes in addition to its Atlantic SurgiCenter for same-day surgeries that's already there.
Parsons Mill Farm
Dominion Land won conditional approval Wednesday for a one-year extension of its site plan for its planned 354-lot Parsons Mill Farm property near 4500 N. College Road in Northern New Hanover.
It would be a mix of single-family and low-density multifamily, Alexander said.
"We were about to get that approved when the bottom was falling out" of the market, she said. But now, the company wants to be ready to move forward as the market changes.
In the mid-2000s, "when the economy tanked, we were going gangbusters" in land development, said county Planning Director Chris O'Keefe.
"A lot of projects were approved preliminarily and they are bringing them back for approval," he said.
The five developments considered Wednesday are evidence that land development is gaining some traction, said Cameron Moore, executive officer of the Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association.
"We've been too long without any development activity," said SEL's Keeter, "so it's encouraging to see people willing to take the risk and put new property on the market."
Wayne Faulkner: 343-2329
On Twitter: @bizniznews
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