Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Good News, Wilmington! (updated Aug 12)

Here's a new collection of stories about what's happening in and around Wilmington NC -- from municipal plans, to new restaurants opening, to special events, and more.  It's all good news for Wilmington!  I'll update frequently.   Let me know if you're aware of interesting stories you think should be in this list.

August 12 2016 Edition

Hitting Academy for Baseball Players

The UNCW Seahawks baseball team hopes to start a Hitting Academy for local baseball players who want to take their batting to the next level.  The Seahawks--coaches and players--will host the academy during their off-season, starting later this month, every Monday evening for four weeks.  
The Seahawks have had a strong season.  As a team, the Seahawks finished in the top 10 in seven offensive categories last season, including batting average, home runs, runs, hits, slugging percentage and runs per game. 
If you'd like more info about the camp, check out the link below.

Operation Pretty Things

Wilmington is a city known for its volunteerism.  There are many worthy causes, and many, many individuals willing to commit their time and effort to making the world around them a better place for everyone.  This week I'd like to focus on Operation Pretty Things (OPT), a non-profit committed to loving and empowering victims of domestic violence.  OPT works along side a number of domestic shelters throughout the region, supplying cosmetic necessities and useful community connections to clients in the shelters.  Upcoming events for OPT include their annual fund-raising gala on August 12.  But if you've missed that this year (it's sold out now), definitely attend the Wine and Fashion Show, where we'll shine a spotlight on OPT and 10% of all proceeds from the event will go to OPT.  This really fun event will be Aug 23, 6-9 pm, at Jenn's Vin wine boutique at Chandler's Wharf, 225 S. Water St., Wilmington.  The event is being sponsored by Women's Power Networking.  Use the links below to sign up to attend!

Link:  Wine and Fashion Show - Eventbrite
Link: Operation Pretty Things Website

July 28 2016 Edition

Paw's Place - Opening New Indoor/Outdoor Facility

Since Paw's Place Animal Rescue opened in 1999, it has helped find loving homes for hundreds of abandoned or lost dogs.  This wonderful no-kill, non-profit organization is looking for families who will adopt their many available dogs (like Kyle, pictured here).  They also love volunteers and appreciate donations.  Coming up in September is the Raise the Ruff Gala to raise funds for the new, bigger, better indoor/outdoor kennel facility.  This will be a worthwhile AND very fun event! Check out the link for info about Paw's Place and how to buy tickets to the Gala.

Link:  Paw's Place Raise the Ruff Benefit Gala

Have You Seen What's Happening at The Pointe?

I drove by the building site for The Pointe at Barclay today and was impressed with progress being made on this new entertainment and dining mecca which will be opening at the corner of Independence and 17th.  They are scheduled for a late 2016 opening -- and maybe they'll make it!  The Pointe is the retail/commercial center of a 500-acre master-planned community.  Anchored by a 14-screen theater, the Pointe will include a mix of premium restaurants, retail stores, services and a grocery store.  (Check out the link below to see the restaurants that have already pre-leased space!)  

BTW, The Forks at Barclay planned community will include a mix of 72 single family, detached homes and 52 townhomes that will feature traditional architecture characterized by southern style, charm and character.  Interested in a new home in this perfect mid-town location?  I can help with that!

Family Fun Night at Airlie Gardens

One of the treasures of the Wilmington area is the gorgeous, 67-acre Airlie Gardens, which boasts some stunning and varied habitat -- magnolia forests, ancient live oak trees, salt marshes, freshwater ponds, acres of flowers and more.  There are lots of events and activities to choose from here, from Bird Hikes to the Summer Concert Series, and Butterfly Releases to Tram Tours.  This Saturday, July 30, is Family Fun Night, with activities for both the young and young at heart.  BTW, participants also will get a chance to meet Reilly, the goose-herding Border Collie who has been 'hired' by Airlie Gardens for a very special job.   

Link: Airlie Gardens Family Fun Night

New Visitor Center/Museum for Fort Fisher State Historic Site

Did you know the Fort Fisher State Historic Site was the most visited state historic site in North Carolina last year, with over 800,000 people walking through the museum doors and over the grounds of this Civil War battlefield?  The current visitor's center was only built to accommodate about 40,000 visitors per year, so there has been an understandable push to enlarge the facility.  Happily, State funding was just approved this month to allocate $400,000 toward creation of a new visitors center and Civil War museum.   The total cost of the new facility will be several million dollars, and The Friends of Fort Fisher organization will be responsible for raising a large portion of the additional funds needed.


July 15 Edition

Wake N Bake to Open Downtown Location

Downtown residents and visitors are in luck!  Although many thought it was well worth the drive to Carolina Beach to get their favorite Wake N Bake donut selections, very soon they will be able to simply walk to their own local neighborhood shop for a sugar over-load.  Owner Danny Tangredi recently announced plans for a Downtown satellite store at 114 Princess Street (near the popular Hell's Kitchen and Beer Barrio, if that helps to orient you.)  My recommendations in order of preference...  The Twisted Turtle (chocolate, salted carmel and pecans); The Samoas (yes, just like the Girl Scout cookies); and The Maple Bacon (you don't even have to be rabidly crazy about bacon to like this!)

Link: Wake N Bake Satellite Store

Opera Wilmington

Opera may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I love that "Opera Wilmington" has added a new dimension to Wilmington's already thriving arts and cultural scene.  Opera Wilmington made its debut as an organization in July 2014 with a luscious production of "The Merry Widow."  Opera Wilmington's goal is to draw on the rich resources of local talent to provide live, high-quality operatic performances, and to cultivate a new generation of opera lovers through educational outreach programs. So far, they are doing a spectacular job!  Coming up next is their production of Mozart's comedic opera, "Cosi Fan Tutte."  Performances are July 29 and 31, and Aug 5 and 7.  Better get your tickets quick because it will definitely sell out.   I can't wait!

Planned Expansion at New Hanover Regional Medical Center

It's a little ways down the road, but New Hanover Regional Medical Center is making plans--hopefully to start in 2017--to build a new Orthopedic and Spine Hospital at the 17th St main campus.  It could take 3 to 5 years to construct.  The Orthopedic team, currently working out of the Cape Fear campus on Wrightsville Avenue, has been recognized by Healthgrades for 12 years in a row with a Five-Star ranking for total knee replacement.  It is also considered one of the top 10 U.S. hospitals for hip and knee replacement and one of America's top 100 hospitals for patient experience.

Fun Facts about Carolina Beach Boardwalk

 Carolina Beach Boardwalk- New

Carolina Beach Boardwalk - Old 

Did you know that the Carolina Beach Boardwalk was voted the #3 best boardwalk in America in a USAToday poll?  If you've been to the boardwalk lately and seen all the improvements and fun activities, you know why it ranks so high.  If you haven't visited in a while, check out the link to the video below -- and then plan a trip.

Did you know that the first Carolina Beach Boardwalk, which was just a flat wooden walkway on the beach, was built in 1887?   Since roads were rough or non-existent, early visitors took a steamboat down the Cape Fear River to "Sugar Loaf" (now part of Carolina Beach State Park) and then transferred to the "Shoe-Fly Train" for the trip from the riverside to the ocean.  Carnival rides have been a part of the Boardwalk experience since at least 1925.

After you've enjoyed the rides, the fireworks, the music and more of Carolina Beach -- and if you are looking for a quieter beach experience -- just head down the road to Kure Beach or the undeveloped beach at Fort Fisher State Park.

Link: WRAR Travel/Lifestyles video "Iconic CB Boardwalk"

Link: Visit Carolina Beach website

Carolina Beach in Top 12 Anchorages

As long as we're bragging about Carolina Beach this week, I'll also mention another accolade...   Marinelife magazine recently did an article on their favorite, Top 12 anchorages.  Carolina Beach was named #4, and described as "the perfect anchorage."  We all think its pretty great, too...

Area Home Sales Continue to Rebound

If you've been watching the local real estate market this summer, you know it's been a hot market.  How hot?  For home sales, this June was the best in 11 years (yes, since 2005 when we were still in the bubble).  We're up 15% over June of 2015, and this May was up 21% over May last year.   Inventory for homes under $200,000 is scant.  Do keep in mind that real estate is hyper local, so one neighborhood may see faster recoveries than others, and certainly sales of homes over $400,000 are slower than those under $200,000.  BTW, as of July 11, interest rates for a 30 yr fixed loan had fallen again, to 3.44%.  Amazing.

(July 1 edition)

Historic Preservation Committee approves policy to preserve Wilmington brick streets

Preserving Historic Brick Streets (link)

City Council approves Water Street development project

After years of discussion, this potentially amazing downtown riverfront location (currently the Water St. Parking Deck) will be developed into a mixed use property that will include apartments, retail shops, offices and parking.
 Water Street development project (link)

Great new Eateries and specialty shops opening

Already known for its great restaurants, bars and shops, there are some new names in town.  

For example, new in Monkey Junction is "Roots," a vegetarian restaurant that will bring a whole new appreciation for vegetables. 

You'll always want to check out "Grand Cru" in Lumina Station - an establishment opening soon that pairs an extensive selection of (mostly French) wines with yummy specialty dishes great for sharing.
Grand Cru - coming soon in Lumina Station

Already a big hit at his S. College Rd location, Brandon Korman just opened his second Tropical Smoothie Cafe, this time in Porter's Neck.  (It's not just about the smoothies; the food is amazing, too!)  

HGTV shines spotlight on Wilmington

HGTV's episode of their new program "Hunting Vintage," filmed in Wilmington, will air at 10 pm Tuesday July 12, and again at 1 am on Wednesday July 13.  This episode follows the efforts of a family to purchase and renovate a vintage home.  The spotlight will shine brightly on the Legacy Architectural Salvage Shop, belonging to the Historic Wilmington Foundation.  (Be sure to set your DVR!)
HGTV spotlight on Wilmington

No Surprise! Wilmington is top city for retirement in North Carolina

Recently, Bankrate came up with their list of top 200 cities nationally that are the best for retirement. Wilmington is 40 on this list -- and of the several cities name in North Carolina, Wilmington was the top.   

Next big things! Development Projects in the area

Thousands of new homes and businesses, a transformed downtown, an improved industrial corridor and the challenges associated with growth.  These were the topics of discussed at "The Next Big Things" Power Breakfast hosted by the Greater Wilmington Business Journal on June 28.  Here's a summary of the discussion of these major projects.
Next Big Things Power Breakfast

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