Seniors, Youth Recommended for Reserve Center Re-Use

Wilmington, NC – Dance and photography classes for the girls upstairs, health care and hot meals for the elders downstairs. That's the future for the Adrian B. Rhodes Reserve Center, as seen by a committee of City Council members who judged proposals for the space.

Their plan for re-use splits the main compound behind Legion Stadium between programs run by Elder Haus and Girls Inc., with a few offices for the city's Department of Parks and Recreation added in.

Councilman Earl Sheridan says sharing the building will help balance needs he's seen in the community. "We liked the idea of fusing the two," Sheridan said Friday, "the young and the old. We felt that those two could help each other."

Two bids for the building were discarded completely - a proposals from Cape Fear Community College to use it for classroom space, and a plan for transitional and permanent supportive housing presented by consortium of local homeless service groups.

The full city council will hear one last round of public comments on the center's future at its meeting Tuesday night before voting on the re-use plan.

Emails from groups connected to the Lakeside Partnership Center urged their supporters to contact the City Council and speak up at Tuesday's meeting in favor of the housing proposal.

However Tuesday's vote goes, the federal government has the final say on the center's future.

While he would not comment specifically on the proposal, HUD official Gary Demmick says it's unlikely his office will approve anything without a major homeless component.

"We know for example there are a lot of homeless needs in Wilmington," Demmick said, "It [any re-use plan]'s going to have to be a large part dealing with homeless needs."

In a document submitted along with its recommendation, the city supported not chosing the Lakeside Partnership Center by stating, "Although the proposal does not provide housing for people that are considered homeless, however in view of the continue (sic) increase in housing cost and the fact that these clients are considered low/moderate income the program could be viewed as a homeless prevention program."

When asked about his recommendation's chances of passing HUD, Sheridan said he's not worried about the response from the federal government.

Rhodes Center Recommended Redevelopment Plan (.pdf)

The city's accompanying Homeless Assistance Submission (.pdf)