City Closes On Downtown Office Campus

The City of Wilmington has successfully acquired a 12.5-acre office campus in northern downtown, which includes a 1,022-space parking deck, a large office building, and two adjoining development tracts. The acquisition of the office campus allows the city to add much-needed parking capacity near Riverfront Park and consolidate numerous city departments under one roof for better operations and customer service.

No tax increase was required to fund the purchase of the office campus, which was included in the city’s FY24 budget. As operations transition to the new campus, the city intends to sell several vacated city buildings and surplus property to offset the $68 million purchase price. The historic Thalian Hall/City Hall building would not be sold.

Mayor Bill Saffo said the new office campus represents “a creative and cost-effective solution to growing demands on downtown parking and city operations.”

“This adds over 1,000 parking spaces near our very successful Riverfront Park and Live Oak Bank Pavilion, brings together multiple city operations into one building, and saves millions of dollars by allowing the city to sell off aging facilities. Our capacity to make such a major investment in the future without a tax increase speaks to the city’s historically strong financial position,” said Mayor Saffo.

The city’s purchase price represents a $43.3 million savings from an appraised market value of $111.3 million for the office campus, and a $55+ million savings over construction alternatives to meet the city’s parking and operational space needs.

The city made an offer to purchase the office campus in January 2023. In May, city leaders made a formal presentation to the North Carolina Local Government Commission, which must approve all such transactions by local governments. The commission voted in June to formally approve the city’s purchase plan. Following a months-long due diligence period, the city closed on the purchase on July 13. The city initiated a request for proposals for architectural consulting services to assist with transitioning its operations into the new building. The city anticipates moving into the building over the course of several months as occupancy plans and improvements are completed.

The office campus originally opened in 2007 as the headquarters of PPD, now the clinical research business of Thermo Fisher Scientific. While maintaining its commitment to Wilmington as a hub for PPD’s operations, Thermo Fisher first announced its intention to sell the campus in November 2022. As part of the sale agreement, PPD will lease two floors of the building for its Wilmington office for three years with options to extend the lease.

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