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Posted on: October 3, 2023

Local Government Commission approves financing plan for Project Grace

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – At its October 3 meeting in Boone, N.C., the Local Government Commission reviewed and approved New Hanover County’s financial proposal for debt issuance of $57 million to fund the construction of a purpose-built, state-of-the-art Public Library and Cape Fear Museum in downtown Wilmington.  

Known as Project Grace, the redevelopment endeavor to create a cultural hub on the three-acre, county-owned block in the heart of the city will begin in the coming weeks.   

“We would like to thank the Local Government Commission for approving the debt issuance for Project Grace. This is an important milestone for a project that has been backed by unanimous, bipartisan support across multiple New Hanover County Boards of Commissioners, allowing us to advance a key community initiative that will benefit our residents and visitors for years to come,” said the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners in a joint statement. “We commend the Commission's thorough review and are eager to progress with the project and bring a new public facility into downtown that will spark curiosity, exploration, and learning.” 

Services at the current downtown Public Library will continue during construction of the new facility on the north side of the block. Additionally, after the new building opens, the current Cape Fear Museum facility will continue to serve as a public-facing site that will house pieces of the collection not currently on display and allow a look at the museum’s behind-the-scenes work in exhibition research, design and fabrication, while also providing an education space that will benefit the community. The new library and museum facility is expected to open in late 2025.  

As part of the agreement approved by the Board of Commissioners in May, the south parcel of the block where the existing downtown Public Library resides will be sold to Cape Fear Development for no less than $3.5 million and, within 24 months of the sale, construction of mixed-use development will begin.  Private development on the site will be a minimum of $30 million.

“After years of collaborative effort, the dedication of our county staff, the invaluable support from community partners, and the guidance of various boards, specifically the library and museum boards, we have crystallized the vision for Project Grace,” said County Manager Chris Coudriet. “As we advance, we're eager to see this collective vision come to life and look forward to seeing this block transform and meet our community’s needs, with a purpose-built museum and library that is in sync with the private investment to come.” 

 More information about Project Grace can be found here 

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