Plans are underway to bring more than 500 new rentals to a busy downtown Wilmington intersection.

Middleburg Communities, a Virginia-based construction and property management company, is seeking to build a 290-unit apartment complex as well as 280 single-family rentals near the intersection of S. 17th Street, Independence Boulevard and the Cameron Art Museum.

The proposed 50-acre development site is just part of more than 300 acres rezoned in 2013 for the Barclay West development.

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The rezoning encompassed various parcels of land along Independence Boulevard between S. 17th Street and Carolina Beach Road. He rezoned land for multiple uses, including offices, retail and restaurants as well as commercial and residential spaces.

Now Middleburg Communities wants to rezone two plots of land that have been zoned for offices to build more housing in the area.

The company is looking to build five four-story apartment buildings on approximately 20 acres of land that borders S. 17th Street. The cottage and townhouse community will be built farther from S. 17th Street on more than 30 acres of land that abuts the Hanover Heights neighborhood.

Traffic moves along Independence and 17th Street in Wilmington, NC on May 9, 2022 near the tip.  Planning is underway to rezone 50 acres of land in Wilmington to build a mix of duplexes, townhouses and apartment rentals.  Barclay West's final project will include over 500 housing units.   [KEN BLEVINS/STARNEWS]

Middleburg Communities is under contract to buy the two parcels of land, but will not complete the sale until rezoning and plans for the project are approved, said Jason Pfister, who works as vice president of land rights for the society.

The company is “fully integrated,” Pfister said, meaning it has both a construction and property management arm.

“We design, build and operate our own projects,” he said.

The company was attracted to the site because of its location – located across Independence Boulevard from Pointe à Barclay, which is home to a Starbucks, movie theater and several high-end restaurants. It is also located diagonally across from the Cameron Art Museum.

Middleburg Communities has seen success in the Wilmington market with the Oasis at Riverlights apartment complex, formerly known as Mosby at Riverlights.

A rendering of The Hamlet at Barclay West, a proposed community of cottage and townhouse rentals near the intersection of 17th Street and Independence Boulevard in Wilmington.

Pfister said that because the company had a positive experience in Wilmington, they wanted to come back when they saw the opportunity. They’ve been working on the design for this project for about six months, Pfister said.

One of the features of the development is its neighborhood of cottage-style rentals, which are called The Hamlet, Pfister said. Designs for the neighborhood situate single-family homes around quad-type shared green spaces that provide residents with room for gardens, fire pits, and other outdoor activities.

“Rather than just a maze of streets…we were able to move the parking lot and reorient the buildings so…you have a much greener, interconnected space,” Pfister said.

Neighboring property owners had questions about how the development’s roads would connect to their neighborhoods and how the cottage rentals would work. Overall, Pfister said, many who attended the community meeting knew the land was slated for some type of development, after rezoning in 2013.

The project is expected to be presented to the Wilmington Planning Commission on June 1, Pfister said. He added that the new housing units will help meet housing demand in the Cape Fear area.

“Wilmington is a city that obviously needs housing,” he said. “The demand is there”

Reporter Emma Dill can be reached at 910-343-2096 or [email protected]