The building was designed by the Leslie N. Boney architectural firm and built between 1970 and 1972 by H.L. Coble Construction of Greensboro.
Solomon Towers was formally dedicated in 1973 and named for Harry M. Solomon, a businessman who was chairman of the Wilmington Housing Authority commissioners for 25 years.
At 11 stories, it was Wilmington’s tallest building and its first high-rise apartment. At the time it was one of just four public housing structures in North Carolina dedicated to the elderly and disabled.
Currently, the building has 151 apartment units, including efficiency apartments and two-bedroom units. The WHA website says units range in size from 437 to 865 square feet and include window air conditioning. Residents also have access to an activity room, a television sitting area, a coin laundry and picnic tables.
A fire that spread to several apartments on Feb. 15, 1983, killed 3 residents (two from smoke inhalation, one from heart failure) and forced a general evacuation.
In October 1992, a wheelchair-bound resident with a history of mental-health problems fired a pistol through a door, wounding a maintenance worker.
In September 2010, a man was found stabbed to death in an apartment at Solomon Towers. Neither the victim nor the man charged in his death lived there.
The Housing Authority entered into a contract for the sale of Solomon Towers with the Caper Corp. in 2007, but that contract never came to fruition, Wilmington Housing Authority CEO Mike Krause said.
The authority has since invested roughly $2.9 million in renovations to the public housing unit. Those renovations include replacing windows and balcony sliders, and implementing a water conservation retrofit, kitchen updates and more.
Caper Corp., a developer, had agreed in June 2007 to buy the Solomon Towers in downtown Wilmington for $13 million, according to the city housing authority.
The scuttled sale of Solomon Towers would have meant 150 residents of the senior and handicapped housing facility on Castle Street would have had to move.
The developer was interested in converting the building into condominiums.
Before Solomon Towers was built, mostly the area was the site of modest single-family houses, at least some of which were moved across the street when construction began. A Greek family once ran a confectioner’s shop in the vicinity. In the early 1900s, gas tanks used to illuminate the city’s gaslights were located on or near the site.
Date posted: October 19, 2010
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