WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – The same company that owns one of the two possible locations for a riverfront baseball stadium has made it known that it's interested in nearby property as well.
Representatives of South Street Partners sent out a press release Tuesday night with the news that they want to develop the vacant lot at the intersection of Front and Third Streets. It sits next to the marina property that the company bought earlier this year and hopes to sell to the city, pending the passage of a $37 million dollar bond referendum.
The press release proposed a mix of retail stores and luxury apartments. Wilmington City Councilman Kevin O'Grady said Wednesday that this kind of private development is part of the vision for downtown Wilmington.
"This is what we hoped would happen," he said. "The stadium itself doesn't generate enough money. No stadium generates enough in ticket sales. Where the city benefits is what happens outside the walls of the stadium."
The location of the stadium is still undecided. The press release from South Street Partners mentioned its downtown development is contingent on the referendum vote, but it did not specify if the development depends on the city buying the company's land instead of the site owned by local developer Chuck Schoninger.
South Street Partners' subsidiary Sawmill Point Investors paid $25,000 to the referendum committee in support of the publicly-funded baseball stadium, according to campaign finance reports.
Scott Harry, organizer of Vote No Stadium Tax, said Wednesday that the business proposal is perfectly legitimate, but an announcement a week before election day seemed suspicious.
"You can see it all tied together," he said.
Wilmington voters will decide the bond referendum a day before city leaders will consider South Street Partner's offer for land to be used as the future home of the baseball stadium.
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