Saturday, January 30, 2010

Great media coverage for a downtown Wilmington entrepreneur

Click the link for the story and photo credit - via Star News -

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What do you think they'll find?

Well- here ya go! Look closely, the building in the background is the
Trust Building.

I took this picture of the trench in the Front Street Improvement Project. I was in front of the alley between the old Tom's Drug and Momentum Surf Shop.

The blue pipe in the back ground is the new water main, so I'll assume the big line running parallel in the foreground is an old water line. The question is, what is bisecting it ...

It looks like a sewer line, but I need to confirm. We thought yesterday there was an artesian well in the area because of the water pooling. But as a layman (me) I guess this intersection of pipes is likely the source.

I sent the Director of Public Services an email tonight betting how many more junctions like this we'll find. If we find at least 5 more, he owes me lunch ...

Friday, January 15, 2010

One Tree Hill Fan Fest

One Tree Hill, which is filmed here in downtown Wilmington, is hosting a Fan Fest. I've copied the press release from the Tourism Development Authority below.





Contact:  Connie Nelson, Communications/PR Director                                      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

910-341-4030, ext. 120 or 910-617-2370 (cell)                                                         January 15, 2010





Wilmington, NC: On Sunday, January 17 a “One Tree Hill” Fan Reunion will commence in Wilmington, North Carolina where The CW Television Network series is filmed. Organized and planned by a fan of the show, the reunion will bring 30 fans from across the United States, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom.


The concept of a “One Tree Hill” (OTH) fan reunion first took shape when Christy-Anne Arancibia created a live online chat room for fans during the show’s sixth season (2008). A single reunion comment generated a flurry of interest so the Florida fan attempted to organize one back in March 2009. When that reunion attempt failed to materialize, Christy-Anne decided to reach out to social media and OTH fan websites. She also used an external registration site to register participants. Six months in the making, the “One Tree Hill” Fan Reunion is scheduled for January 17-19, 2010.

Fans will meet for the first time during a welcome orientation and group dinner on Sunday. Their itinerary includes a private tour of EUE/Screen Gems Studios; a motorcoach tour of locations used during the show’s seven seasons; and a dinner at Hell’s Kitchen, a location for “One Tree Hill” (The CW, 2003-present) and “Dawson’s Creek” (The WB, 1998-2003). Monday evening’s activities include viewing the current episode of “One Tree Hill.” Fans will also have an opportunity to explore the destination on their own prior to their departure on Tuesday. Several international participants will arrive early and/or extend their stays beyond the reunion dates. 

“The fans are looking most forward to the studio tour," states Christy-Anne. When asked what one surprise would make the top of their wish list, she responded: "We would love to run into the cast and crew that give us this amazing show week after week."

Planning the reunion was not without challenges. According to Christy-Anne, keeping registration costs affordable and making reservations without knowing how many people would actually register were especially challenging. She praises the Wilmington area businesses that have helped make the reunion a success, with a special thanks to the Hilton Wilmington Riverside’s staff for their friendly service. Christy-Anne hopes that “One Tree Hill” is picked up by The CW for an 8th season so she can reunite the group of fans next year.

Wilmington & North Carolina's Cape Fear Coast is not only a great place to “Come & Play,” it’s also a great place to “Come & Film.” The region has starred in hundreds of film and television projects. Visitors can experience “Hollywood East” with weekend tours of EUE/Screen Gems Studios ( and the Hollywood Location Walk, a guided tour of Downtown TV/movie locations ( There’s also a “Walk of Fame” honoring local celebrities in the parking area of The Cotton Exchange Free “One Tree Hill” FAQ Sheets are available at area visitor centers and online at

 For a FREE Visitors Guide for Wilmington & North Carolina’s Cape Fear Coast, call 1-866-266-9690, or visit                                      


NOTE TO MEDIA: Photo opportunity with OTH Fan Reunion group at the EUE/Screen Gems Studio gate on Monday, Jan. 18, 2010 at 9:45am. If interested, please RSVP to Connie Nelson: 910-617-2370.



Come & Play!
Wilmington and North Carolina's Cape Fear Coast 
Wilmington • Carolina Beach • Kure Beach • Wrightsville Beach

Best regards,

Connie Nelson, Communications/Public Relations Director,
Wilmington/Cape Fear Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau
24 N. Third Street
Wilmington, NC 28401
(910) 341-4030, ext. 120
(910) 341-4029 (fax)
(866) 266-9690

predictions for 2010 retail - via

I am re-posting the retail predictions from Metropolis Mag.

It's a good sign, and consistent with all the things we are working on in downtown Wilmington. Click the link above or read the details below.

What’s Next: Retail
Posted January 13, 2010 Shopping as we know it is dead. Unsightly malls and big-box inefficiencies are giving way to a more sophisticated kind of retail as families and retirees increasingly trade the suburbs for city life, and digital tools seamlessly insinuate themselves into our daily rituals. “The world of retail is going to change more in the next ten years than it has in the previous two hundred,” says Paco Underhill, of the consumer-research and consulting firm Envirosell and author of the forthcoming book What Women Want.

ONE year:

“The evolution of the big box into urban spaces. One of the things that Apple, Best Buy, and Bed, Bath & Beyond have done a nice job with is having a fairly modest footprint on the street level and driving traffic down to ultracheap real estate in sub-basements and basements.” —P.U.

FIVE years:

“When you look at the Time Warner Center [in New York] and places like Darling Harbor in Sydney, one of the things that you’re seeing is not a mall but an ‘all.’ You include commercial office space, residential housing, public buildings, public facilities, libraries, churches, schools—everything—all built into the same complex. It’s a much more creative meeting of public and private interests.” —P.U.

TEN years:

“You take your mobile phone into Ann Taylor, and you see a gorgeous blue pencil skirt. You scan it on your mobile phone, and your personal-shopping bot goes, ‘This matches the blouse that you bought three months ago.’ So you have something that keeps track of your wardrobe. It’s a much more creative use of advertising and the Internet as a way of getting you, at the point of sale, to open your pocketbook.” —P.U.

A very good crowd for the unveiling of the National Underground
Railroad Historical Marker at the Orange Street Landing.

The Hidden Cost of "Free" Parking

I saw this on the Raleigh Connoisseur

Here's the video ">link

So often I overcome objections on downtown parking and why people avoid downtown. This should give them all the answers they need. NO PARKING IS FREE. It always cost something, sometimes the people who can afford it least pay the most.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Here's the rendering of the proposed new Riverfront Park near the
Isabel Holmes Bridge.

International Downtown Association Award Winning Pedestrian Art gets great media coverage

There a great story on the downtown PedArt program today in the Star News. Click here for the story.

Back in September, when I attended the International Downtown Association (IDA) in Milwaukee, Wilmington Downtown received the award. We submitted under the public space category and were among over 80 submissions reviewes.

We're proud of the program, and it appears that the current installation is widely popular.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

You Invited to the Zombie Apocalypse

They are wrapping a movie about zombies in Wilmington soon. They are inviting extras to be zombies in the shot. No experience necessary, click here for more info.

Building Ordered to be vacated

Last night, about 6:00 pm, the building at 22 N Front Street was ordered to be vacated. The tenants had reported that "it felt like the building was shifting." The owner ordered an engineer to take a look at the structure and foundation and said the building was no longer safe.

After further investigation, it was determined that the building had seen significant increases in water meter usage. Apparently there was a leak in the water main under the foundation. So much so that the concrete slab adjacent to the building had collapsed in Bailey Theatre Park. So now, storm water has been flowing into the foundation as well.

I'll post pictures later, but the facade has come off of the wall about 2-3 inches at the top.

I spoke to Jimmy, the owner of DoubleWide Skate Shop a little while ago. He is waiting to hear what the landlord is going to do before making any decisions on his location. In the meantime, I have identified multiple locations that would be suitable for both businesses. the other business impacted was Old Books on Front, a popular book store.

Keep your fingers crossed in hopes that this building gets back in service quickly.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

North Carolina Azalea Festival Pre-Fest Kick-Off Party tickets are going fast

The January party to be at is the NC Azalea Festival Kick-Off Party next Friday night. For a printable flyer, click here.

Sleeping Booty is playing they also throw a really great party.

Go ahead and mark your calendar for the Annual Spring Tradition that is the NC Azalea Festival. The dates are April 7th - 11th. More information about the Festival can be found at

Monday, January 4, 2010

Front Street Improvement Project begins today

If you drove downtown today, you probably saw the barricades. Work begins on the North Front Street Improvement Project today. To bring everybody up to speed, this project will replace 100+/- year old sewer and water lines. Also, the City of Wilmington (at the urging of Wilmington Downtown, Inc) is going to re-do all of the streetscape improvements.

This means new asphalt, new sidewalks, all new trees and landscaping, new street furniture, new trash cans, new (and magnificently preserved) brick pavers. I know some will complain about ripping out trees, but we'll be planting more than we cut down. Besides, many of the trees on Front Street are the wrong type, and the roots grow out at the surface creating trip hazards throughout downtown. The roots have also wrapped themselves around the utilities we are replacing. The new trees are specifically bred to grow in urban environments. They will also have new tree grates, allowing for a better walking experience.

Why are we doing this, well the Vision 2020 Plan recommended doing all new utilities to support future growth. It also suggested turning N. Front Street back to two way traffic (which was completed in 2007). Part of that plan, and a subsquent 2006 Infrastructure and Retail Strategy Plan said that we needed to beautify our downtown; making it more pedestrian and retail friendly. And the obvious, we NEED to replace the aging infrastructure. If we had a failure or spill, things would be a lot worse than the impact this project is going to have.

So this project will do that. We'll be getting wider sidewalks as well; each side will grow by almost 18 inches. Additionally the sidewalks will be more level, and with the better tree grates it will feel so much bigger.

Tomorrow, Tuesday January 5th at 10:30, I'll be joining the Mayor, Bill Saffo, the President of the Utility Authority, and the contractor for a Ground Breaking Ceremony at Front and Market Streets. Later in the day, we are hosting a "Meet the Contractor" for the public, downtown business owners/residents, and anyone else who'd like to come by. The meeting will begin at 4:00 pm in the office of Wilmington Downtown. Click here for a map and directions.

This project will cause some hardships for our downtown businesses, but I remain optimistic. During the project, only about 20 parking spaces will be lost. Only one block at a time will be shut down to vehicular traffic. The sidewalks will always remain open. Many of these businesses have pedestrian based customers, so they need to still work on getting them in the door and closing the sale.

To help out, the City of Wilmington is committing $30,000 to TV advertisements. Wilmington Downtown has leveraged some media partnerships to run PSA's promoting downtown as a destination, encouraging people to park in the City's parking decks, and shop local: shop downtown. The City's message will be similar.

The city's signage for the project is great. They read something like: "IMPROVEMENT UNDERWAY - WALK ON IN". "STORES OPEN - WALK ON IN." You can see the graphic by clicking here. Everywhere you see a "no through traffic" or "road closed ahead" you'll see those companion signs. We at Wilmington Downtown also have some things up our sleaves.

We are working with various groups to promote different types of events downtown during and in the project. We want to draw people into the project to see all of the great shops downtown. We hope to have large original artwork on the construction fencing. We are also working with the existing events by helping to promote and encourage them to stay where they are.

Check our website often, we'll be updating it frequently. Also be sure to follow me on I'll be posting any boil water advisories there, as well as progress reports (in under 140 characters of course).

If you are interested in sponsoring, coordinating or being a part of any events, please let me know - When these two blocks are completed, we'll be begging the city to get the rest of downtown completed.

Thanks, and Happy New Year - oh yeah, one of my resolutions is to do this more, so keep reminding me to blog.