Project Indigo

Preliminary plans were released last Thursday for a major development on nearly 400 acres west of downtown Southport dubbed “Project Indigo.”

Bald Head Island Limited owns the land surrounding and adjacent to Indigo Plantation, and has joined with East West Partners to transform the property into a mixed-use development with various types of housing including residential and cottage lots, multi-family, condos, townhomes and duplexes as well as retail and other businesses, senior living, and pocket parks and walking trails.

It could be 24 to 36 months before development starts and the build-out would take 10 to 15 years, said CEO of Bald Head Island Limited Chad Paul.

“A lot of that depends on working with the town and working with the county. There’s a lot to coordinate with constituents,” Paul added.

Associates of East West Partners, including President Roger Perry, distributed packets mapping their concept to the Southport Board of Aldermen at its July meeting as an invitation to work together moving forward.

“We’re not coming here to tell you how we’re going to do our development,” said Lucien Ellison, the East West Partners senior partner who runs the Wilmington office. “We’re coming here in a collaborative spirit.”

Diagrams in the package feature a central park, designed to be a hub of activity; a residential village and assisted living; and a marina village with nearby condos and apartments and a boardwalk.

Ellison said the overriding theme of the plan is connectivity: within the community, with the city, and with nature and the water.

“We have got marina village and the Intracoastal Waterway and all the marsh surrounding our property,” Ellison said. “It’s so beautiful that we want to maximize that for our residents.”

The central park would be built around the wetland in the middle of the site. There would also be sidewalks and trails throughout the community with the goal of connecting residents with nature. More than 30% of the land in the concept is left as green space, said McKay Siegel, project manager.

Paul said their goal is to annex all the property into the city. Currently, about 15% of it is in the city limits while the majority is in the extraterritorial jurisdiction.

The developers estimate the community would see a $1.6 million tax impact on the city and $2.7 million in the county as a result of the project.

Mayor Joseph P. Hatem called it “a moonshot for Southport.”

“It’s probably one of the most exciting projects that we’ll have,” he added.

East West Partners is known for its mixed-use residential projects, including its “flagship community” Meadowmont in Chapel Hill. That project took nine years of hearings, public forums and town meetings to receive the approvals and permitting necessary to put a shovel in the ground.

The developers are just completing River Place, which was a public-private partnership with the City of Wilmington. The 12-story building towering over the Cape Fear River contains condos, apartments, office and retail spaces.