New Hanover County
has everything from condos, restored homes and row houses nestled among antebellum homes and buildings in the downtown Wilmington Historic District to palatial homes on the barrier islands, plus everything in between - itís all here.
Downtown Historic District: Wilmington has one of the largest historic districts for a city of its size in the nation. This area continues to grow as additional sections of older homes are formally added. Some people coming to Wilmington fall in love with this part of town and buy an older home to restore, a true labor of love. Others opt for previously restored gracious old homes, newer condos built in keeping with the character of the District, quaint row houses or charming condos on the upper floors of many of the older buildings. The Historic District extends roughly a mile north and a mile south of Market Street and is bounded on the west by the Cape Fear River and on the east by Eighth Street.
City of Wilmington: This area includes two fingers extending east from the Historic District that includes Carolina Heights, the Mansion District and Carolina Place. The city consists of a very wide variety of housing, ranging from upscale in the recently annexed and burgeoning east side near Wrightsville Beach, to the more modest homes in many of the older established neighborhoods. In recent years, condominium development has been extensive in a number of areas along with new housing developments and gated communities. Mixed-use developments, which include houses, condos and patio homes in conjunction with hotel, restaurant, retail and office space, are becoming increasingly trendy. Examples include the upscale east-side Mayfaire development and the proposed nearby Autumn Hall and Ocean Park developments.
Suburban Wilmington pretty much includes the rest of New Hanover County and consists of rural areas, suburban developments and communities such as Castle Hayne, Ogden, Kings Grant, Murrayville, Wrightsboro and Pine Valley. Plus one more you probably wonít find on a map -- the rapidly growing Monkey Junction area, located at the junction of South College Road and Carolina Beach Road. Residents of the area prefer to include it Myrtle Grove, but the state and historians still call it Monkey Junction.
Riverfront and adjacent areas along the Cape Fear River have seen very rapid development in the last few years. Generally, the area consists of fairly expensive houses, gated communities and developments right along the river, many with their own docks, plus somewhat less expensive developments along the East Side of River Road. Several marina developments with condominiums are under construction or planned including one at the north end of downtown near the future convention center.
Oceanfront, soundfront, Intracoastal Waterway and island neighborhoods: These run the gamut from multi-million dollar homes and half-million dollar or more condos on the Atlantic Ocean to reasonably priced properties just a few blocks from the beach. These areas include the exclusive, restricted-access Figure Eight Island plus Wrightsville Beach and the two towns on Pleasure Island, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, which are seeing very rapid growth and escalating property values.
In Wrightsville Beach, very little land remains for construction, but many condos and homes are available, albeit at very high prices. On Pleasure Island, development is at a fever pitch because land is still available. Kure Beach is mostly single-family homes and moderately sized condo developments. Just a few years ago, oceanfront land in Kure Beach was selling for only about $300,000 per lot. Now itís going for $1.5 million or more.
A Carolina Beach lot just a few blocks from the ocean could be purchased for around $40,000 in 2000. Today, these Carolina Beach lots are higher, but still reasonably priced, and homes can still be found for less than $300,000. Basically, the closer to the ocean, the more costly the land or home. However, properties along the Intracoastal Waterway or facing the sounds and creeks can be nearly as expensive as oceanfront. Several high-rise mixed-use condo developments are underway or in the planning stages in the central business district.
Except for properties near the beaches, houses in New Hanover County do not differ significantly from those in other areas of the nation except that the mild climate eliminates the need for a full basement for the furnace. Houses near the beaches are frequently built on pilings in order to minimize damage from hurricane storm surges. Most houses are equipped with an outdoor heat pump providing both cooling and heat. However, the settings for homes in this area may differ quite a bit from those in other areas, especially the North. In addition to normal residential settings in the city or suburbs, we have three other arrangements for homes that have become very popular here in the South.
Gated communities, which feature limited access, either with or without attended gatehouses, usually contain homes of similar style and value, often with rules for appearance and maintenance.
Mixed-use developments are almost a separate community or village, and feature individual single-family homes, patio homes and condominiums within or adjacent to an area of shops, markets, restaurants, entertainment venues and offices. Many of these developments have green areas, lakes, walking trails and recreation facilities. Residents often can walk to wherever they need to go.
You'll also find plantations, which are usually gated communities containing single-family, patio and condo homes surrounding a golf course and lakes. They also may be located on the water and have marinas or docking facilities. Some plantations can be quite extensive, containing several golf courses and many homes.