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Proceeds from sale of Wilmington's Optimist Park slated for homeless housing

Optimist Park, looking a bit overgrown.
Kelly Kenoyer
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The proceeds will largely go to Eden Village, a gated tiny home community that will provide shelter for 32 single adults who have been homeless in Wilmington for at least a year.

Wilmington City Council just sold Optimist Park, which suffered from flooding during Hurricane Florence. Proceeds from the sale will go to permanent supportive housing for the homeless, with the lion’s share going to Eden Village.

Two government bodies purchased parts of the park: North Carolina Ports and Cape Fear Public Utility Authority. The tract of land is South of downtown on Front Street, close to Greenfield Lake. Due to its proximity to downtown, city staff said they’re working with the Port to create a buffer zone with downtown.

Councilor Margaret Haynes agreed that such a buffer would enhance the area, adding, “I just want to make sure that we have a contractual agreement in writing about that- that this is not something that might fall by the wayside.”

The North Carolina Ports will receive about eight acres of land, while CFPUA will receive about three acres. Much of the land still qualifies as wetland, and the entire tract is in a flood zone.

The proceeds will largely go to Eden Village, a gated tiny home community that will provide shelter for 32 single adults who have been homeless in Wilmington for at least a year.

Founder Tom Dalton requested $250,000 from the city for infrastructure costs, and received $293,000 from the sale of Optimist Park. Another $42,000 will go to other permanent supportive housing, according to city documents.

Eden Village’s 32 tiny homes will be handicap accessible, fully furnished studios for the chronically homeless- a population totaling about 100 people in Wilmington, according to Dalton.

“It’s folks that cannot figure it out,” Dalton said. “They’re 15% of the homeless population. They’re folks that are on the streets for over a year. They have high levels of mental illness and medical illnesses that are very difficult to manage while on the streets.”

Each resident will pay $300 a month in rent, utilities included. The gated community will be built on a site next to the Salvation Army Build Hope campus near Creekwood, and construction is slated to begin next year.