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What happened to the city of Wilmington’s plans for a park on the old Water Street parking deck?

Patrick Gannon
StarNews

The easy answer is: It’s still in the works, but there’s no telling when – or if — it will begin.

An agreement between the city of Wilmington and PB&G Partners LLC was signed in August 2007. As part of the agreement, the city spent $2.6 million to acquire part of the Water Street parking deck area, which it plans to develop as a city park. Meanwhile, PB&G Partners agreed to develop the remaining portion as a mix of office, residential or retail uses.

According to the agreement, if PB&G Partners doesn’t begin its portion of the project by August 2010 – three years after it was signed – the city has the right to purchase PB&G’s portion of the property for $3 million or the fair market value, whichever is less.

The clock is ticking. Two years are almost up, and nothing’s been done down there. Demolition of the parking deck likely would come first, and that hasn’t happened.

Gene Merritt of PB&G Partners said his company hopes to build a hotel there and is seeking an operating company to partner with. But so far, no luck.

A backup plan, Merritt said, would be to build urban apartments for seniors, but he would need more zoning density than currently allowed by the city.

When asked if something was going to be done, Merritt said: “I hope so, but times are tough. We’re working very hard on it, but times are tough.”

Meanwhile, the Water Street parking deck is co-owned by the city and PB&G, which split the income from it.

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