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Wilmington Looking to Expand Urban Mixed-Use Zoning to Encourage Redevelopment

Isabelle Shepherd
Senior City Planner Christine Hughes presents the requirements for the conceptual site plan, which would have to be approved by Wilmington City Council before a plot of land could be rezoned as urban mixed-use.

Wilmington city planners are hoping to encourage redevelopment with the expansion of urban mixed-use zoning, which mandates a blend of the commercial and residential. But since Wilmington is mostly built out, redevelopment will always be in someone’s backyard. 

The first reading of an amendment to expand urban mixed-use (UMX) zoning has been passed by city council.  If it passes a second reading, any property owner of five acres or more could apply for this zoning classification.  Christine Hughes, Senior City Planner, stresses the goal of rethinking the way the city does parking through UMX zoning: 

"It’s unattractive, all that parking out in front of the building. It’s often underutilized. It doesn’t contribute anything to our tax base. It doesn’t help improve the natural environment. It’s hot. It’s pedestrian unfriendly. Sometimes it’s pedestrian unsafe. It doesn’t yield much return on investment. There are a lot of things that we can do to change that."

Urban mixed-use zoning would bring buildings to the street to hide parking lots from view.  It would also incentivize parking garages and reduce the minimum required parking areas.

A handful of residents say they fear neighboring properties may choose to be rezoned as UMX, which could lead to the construction of a tall commercial property near their homes. 

Another public hearing regarding the amendment will be held at the Wilmington City Council’s September 2nd meeting before the proposal’s final reading.