In late 2022, after the county did not receive financing approval for the lease agreement with Zimmer Development and their withdrawal from the project, Cape Fear Development expressed interest in the project. Cape Fear Development is a local company with deep communities ties, and the county has had a successful relationship with them through the government center redevelopment project, which is structured as a public-private partnership. This new agreement for Project Grace has been structured similarly to that of the government center site.
After expressing potential interest in the project, Cape Fear Development spent nearly five months analyzing the county's purchased plans, evaluating the merits of the project, and engaging with the community for feedback using their own time and resources at no cost to the county.
In the review of the purchased plans, Cape Fear Development has been engaged with the existing design and construction team — LS3P and Monteith Construction — and identified $4 million in potential cost savings using “value engineering” techniques. Cape Fear Development also engaged with multiple community groups and organizations about the project and heard very positive feedback, with the majority of people wanting to see the project move forward.
After their extensive research, Cape Fear Development determined they wanted to be a partner in this project and, at the end of March, they presented their findings to the Board of Commissioners at an agenda review meeting. At that time, Commissioners agreed to move forward with a development agreement and for staff to negotiate the terms of the agreement to bring a state-of-the art library and museum to the block with compatible and timely private investment.