Friday, December 8, 2017

Light up the Holidays!

Map out a Route Glowing with Holiday Cheer

My family has a Christmas tradition of piling into the car (or cars! if there are enough of the extended family in town) to scout for the best holiday light displays.  Who doesn't get in to the spirit of the season looking at beautiful and sometimes truly over-the-top light displays?? I'm always amazed at the time, effort and creativity that people put in to their illuminated decorations.  And grateful!  Very grateful!

So, I love that there's a helpful map of all the best light displays in the Wilmington area.  Take a look at this link to the map ... and then get the family together and go light up your holiday with a fun drive through the neighborhoods!

Wilmington Christmas Lights Map website

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Wilmington a Cultural Mecca?

Plenty for Arts Lovers to Enjoy!

The "cultural mecca" of eastern North Carolina?  Yes! Wilmington can make that claim easily with our thriving and ever growing Arts and Culture scene.  Wilmingtonians can enjoy a variety of theater productions, high quality museum exhibits, and an excellent range of musical performances.  Dinner theaters, concerts, broadway shows .. we've got it!  Venues range from  open-air amphitheaters, to historic buildings both grand and cozy, to modern state-of-the-art facilities.  The impressive new Wilson Center downtown provided Wilmington with a major 1,600-seat performance theater - the largest in the area - designed to accommodate large broadway touring productions, symphonic performances, major artists in concert, and more. If you haven't been yet, try to get there for a performance ... maybe the "Wizard of Oz" this weekend, or the upcoming Mannheim Steamroller Christmas.

Link: Events at the Wilson Center

 Recent exciting new developments in Wilmington include the new professional ballet company (I'm heading out soon to their 1st Annual International Ballet Gala.  Very excited!).  I've also enjoyed the just 4-year-old Wilmington Opera, which has produced some wonderfully lush and professional performances.

Want more info about Opera Wilmington upcoming performances?

Our thriving arts scene is highlighted by Fourth Friday Gallery Night, which happens -- as you might guess -- the 4th Friday of every month.  During this free monthly event, downtown galleries, studios and art spaces open their doors to the public in an after-hours celebration of art and culture.  Take the popular self-guided tour between 6-9 pm at locations throughout downtown Wilmington.

For more info on Fourth Friday Gallery Night, including walking maps, use this link:

Link: Fourth Thursday Gallery Night

You can also enjoy a self-guided tour of the downtown arts scene anytime using a location-specific audio tour with this ArtsWilmington free app.

    Here are some more good sources of information about:

Arts Council of Wilmington website and calendar of events:

Wilmington and Beaches website Things to Do

Monday, September 18, 2017

Lovely Airlie Gardens - A Century of Gardens by the Sea -- and More!

Airlie Gardens is one of the treasures of Southeastern North Carolina.  First developed as a garden by Mrs. Sarah Jones, wife of wealthy industrialist Pembroke Jones, Airlie has been an important local landmark for over a century.  (An interesting historical side note:  Sarah and Pembroke Jones were famous for their over-the-top entertaining.  In fact, the saying "keeping up with the Joneses" originated with Sarah and Pembroke Jones!)  

Airlie Gardens draws garden lovers from around the world to its 67 acres of stunning seasonal blooms, walking paths, ancient oak trees, freshwater lake, and formal gardens.  It has also evolved into a venue for a lively array of activities that can appeal to all members of the family.  Events include the popular bi-weekly summer Concert Series, the Annual Holiday Light Show, the Summer Art Exhibit, monthly guided Bird Hikes, the Butterfly House, and the Annual Oyster Roast (in October).  New this fall is a 4-week event, "Hops and Talks," in which Airlie hosts several local breweries as well as Catch the Food Truck (one of my favorites!) 

For more info about visiting the gardens and attending the events, check out the Airlie Gardens website.

Airlie Garden Website

Historic Carolina Place

Renovated Bungalow

A Rich History in Charming Carolina Place, Wilmington NC

Carolina Place was the first of three "Streetcar Suburbs" built in Wilmington NC - some of the earliest planned communities in the early 20th century United States.  Once located on the outskirts of Wilmington city limits but easily accessible by streetcar, it was designed to accommodate a growing middle class.  Now, Carolina Place is part of Wilmington's downtown landscape.  (Sadly, the streetcars are no more.)  Many of the typical 1, 2, and 3-bedroom bungalows here have been beautifully renovated, while some are still waiting for their facelift.  Don't expect to find large yards or garages, but do look for great craftsman and architectural details and plenty of historic charm.  The Carolina Place Historic District has become a popular and highly sought-after location for homeowners looking for character, a central location and strong sense of community.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Farmers Markets, Performing Arts and More

Sept 9 2016

DREAMS Presents:  Reaching New Heights

(Update:  Coming up in 2017, the Festival of Dreams will be held Sept 30, 4-7 pm.   The Dreams Presents: 20th Anniversary (yes! 20 years!) Gala will be Nov 18, 6-9 pm.  Go to their website or the Dreams Center for Art Education Facebook page for tickets.) 

DREAMS of Wilmington is something really special. This nationally award-winning nonprofit is dedicated to building creative, committed citizens, one child at a time. It provides youth in need with high-quality, free-of-charge programming in the literary, visual, multimedia and performing arts. On Sept 30 you'll have the opportunity to see the young DREAMers showcase what they've been learning with a visual and performing arts production, "DREAMS Presents: Reaching New Heights."  The event will be at the Dreams Garage, their terrific, 5,000 sq ft, newly-renovated community center/performance venue.  Get your tickets here!   Friday, Sept 30, 6 - 8 pm  901 Fanning Street, Wilmington

Link: Dreams of Wilmington

Fall Harvest Fun at the Farmers Markets

Late summer and fall is a wonderful time to visit your local farmers markets for delicious, locally sourced fall produce, seafood, local crafts, plants and more.  If you are new to the area, or thinking of moving here, just know that there are several great markets to choose from around Wilmington.  (The smaller markets in local beach towns tend to close earlier in the year, but I'll include some here anyway in case you want to check them out next spring.)

-- Downtown Farmer's Market on Water St, Saturdays 8 am - 1 pm, until Nov 19.  This highly popular market along the Cape Fear River is overseen by Riverfront Farmers Market, Inc, which just this spring expanded to open a new, and very successful!, market at Ogden Park...
-- Ogden Park Farmers Market, Wednesdays 8 am - 1 pm, until Nov 16. Located on the park's sprawling 125-acre grounds, there is ample parking and easy access from both Market St and Gordon Rd.  (I heard they may still be taking applications for new vendors.) 
-- Poplar Grove Farmers Market, Wednesdays 8 am - 1 pm, until Oct 26.  Visitors to the market can also explore the grounds of beautiful, historic Poplar Grove Plantation for free.  
-- Gourmet in the Grove, Thursdays 4 - 7:30 pm. (Call before you go. The last one may have been Sept 1.)   Poplar Grove also has the distinction of hosting the only evening farmers market, with a few local vendors offering a chance to browse, shop, wine and dine after work hours.  
-- Carolina Beach Farmers Market at Carolina Beach Lake Park, Satudays 8 am - 1 pm until Oct 1.
-- Wrightsville Beach Farmers Market, on the municipal grounds adjacent to the town hall, Mondays 8 am - 1 pm until Sept 26.
-- Southport Waterfront Market, Wednesday 8 am - 1 pm through Sept 7

1st Annual Wilmington Boat Show

(Update:  The 2017 Wilmington Boat Show was originally scheduled Sept 8-10.  Sept 8-9 were beautiful days to see the showcased boats, but because of the threat of inclement weather, it was closed on Sept 10.  Look for the return of the world-class Wilmington Boat Show next fall!)

Boats of all shapes and sizes will be on display, with some available to try out, at the the inaugural Wilmington Boat Show this weekend, Sept 9-11.  This 3-day event will be big!... in fact, bigger than originally expected.  According to  JBM & Associates (who also manage the boat shows in Charleston and Savannah), the Wilmington event has "morphed into a major show for the boating industry." It is also a great opportunity to showcase some of Wilmington's new amenities along the Cape Fear River, with event venues at the sparkling new downtown convention center, the recently completed Port City Marina and Pier 33, as well as at Battleship North Carolina across the river. (Free water taxi service. Yes!)  In addition to the boats, there will be all kinds of exhibits, informative seminars and games for both adults and kids.  Check out the website for more info.  (BTW, Vets go free on Sunday.)  

Link: Wilmington Boat Show

Wilmington Welcomes GLOW... and GLOW Welcomes its First Class

(Update:  GLOW added another 100 students 6th Grade girls in 2017, and moved up 100 of last year's students to the 7th grade.  The first year of the school, and the summer leadership program, was wildly successful.  GLOW is already preparing to build a new school to accommodate the growing school.  BTW, GLOW has been nominated for Chik-fil-A's True Inspiration Award (worth $75,000!). To vote for GLOW (do it!), download the Chik-Fil-A One app to your smart phone, register, and then select "vote" under the True Inspirations Award menu / Atlantic Region.)

On Monday, Aug 29, 2016,  100 6th grade girls, mostly from disadvantaged neighborhoods in Wilmington, began their educational path toward college graduation. They are the first class of the Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington (GLOW), a North Carolina private charter school. Wilmington is excited to have GLOW, the newest of 18 schools in the nationally recognized Young Women's Leadership Network (YWLN). YWLN is a proven network of high-performing schools started 20 years ago in East Harlem by NY philanthropist Ann Tisch. With the intention of leveling the playing field for disadvantaged girls, YWLN schools are modeled on the finest private schools, and paired with effective strategies to address the array of challenges faced by at-risk students. The high school graduation and college acceptance rates of YWLN schools have established this model as a leader in single gender low income education. Graduates attend college at a rate four times greater than their peers.
Click on the video above for more info, or on the link below to go to the GLOW website.  The Academy is actively seeking volunteers as tutors, recess monitors and more.  What a wonderful opportunity to make a difference!

Link: Glow website and volunteer sign-up

RiverLights Development

Rendering of the waterfront seafood restaurant

(Update:  As of Oct 2017, "Smoke on the Water" restaurant at the Marina at Riverlights has become a popular spot for good food and panoramic views of the Cape Fear River.  Mangolia Social Cafe is also open for coffee, breakfast or a light snack.  Homes are going up quickly in this new community -- and they are beautiful, upscale properties.  Be aware, the Del Webb homes in the 55+ area of the community are "ala carte" builds -- meaning the base price may be in the low to mid-200's, but all the upgrades you are likely to want will add up quickly.  Worth it, no doubt, but be prepared...)  

RiverLights, the new "lifestyle" community on 1,396 acres along the Cape Fear River, will soon be opening some of its first model homes for potential buyers to view.  Framing is done on the Phase 1 of the "market place," the riverside seafood restaurant, amenities centers and townhomes.  Seven different builders are breaking ground to start construction of their  models, while Del Webb, the developer for the 55+ portion of the community, will have his model patio homes (which start in the mid-$200s) ready in about six weeks. 

The amenities in this community will be unmatched in New Hanover County, and most will be completed in 2016 before new homeowners move in. Del Webb has begun the 55+ amenities center, which includes awesome indoor and outdoor heated saltwater pools, huge clubhouse, tennis and pickle courts and more. Separately, the RiverLights developer also is building several parks, walking/biking trails and amenities, including the "Lakehouse" which will be another community clubhouse with a saltwater pool, fitness center and gathering space. Most of the beautiful boardwalk along the river is finished, and construction on the Marina Village with waterfront bar/restaurant is underway. The place looks amazing!

If you are interested in a community with beautiful river access and 500 acres of planned open space, a lake for fishing and kayaking, outstanding amenities, its own restaurant and shops, and the highest quality home builders -- all just a 10 minute drive from downtown Wilmington -- well, you won't be the only one! If you want to jump before others discover this gem, contact me. I can get you additional info and arrange a tour also.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

More Good News! Aug 25 Update and more

If you've been following my blog, "Carolina Real Estate with Mary Lynn," the post below will look very familiar.   I decided to start an entirely separate blog for my "Good News, Wilmington!" posts. It was starting to get a little unwieldy, and just wasn't making much sense to keep updating this post in the other blog.  It was just crying out for it's own home! (I'm a real estate agent, so yes, I had to find it a new home.) I've moved the Good News, Wilmington posts from the other blog to here for the continuity.   

As a real estate agent in the Wilmington NC area, I love educating folks (some would call in bragging) about the fun events, new developments, fascinating history and culture of our region.  If you are new to the area, thinking about moving here, or even a long-time resident, I hope you find this both useful and enjoyable!

Mary Lynn

Here's a new collection of stories about what's happening in and around my hometown of Wilmington NC -- from municipal plans, to new restaurants opening, to special events, and more.  It's all good news for Wilmington!  I'll update frequently.  Let me know if you're aware of interesting stories you think should be in this list.

August 25 Edition

New All-Inclusive Playground at Hugh MacRae Park

It opened at the end of July, and it's been a hit!  The new playground at Hugh MacRae Park provides inclusive play opportunities for children with all abilities and of all ages.  Features include accessible equipment for children with mobility issues, bright colors for the visually impaired and quiet nooks for children with autism.  There are elements for smaller children, ages 2-5, and a separate area for those 5-12 years old.  Nearby, adults can exercise on the new fitness stations while their children play on the playground.  Soon to come will be a new 2,700 square foot splash pad.  What a great addition to the Wilmington community!  If you want more info about what the park offers, click on the link below to the New Hanover County Parks website.

Link: NHCgov Parks - Hugh MacRae

Carolina Beach Dragon Boat Race!

The 4th Annual Carolina Beach Dragon Boat Regatta and Festival is fast approaching.  (A little alarming for some of us who will be competing in the boat races for the first time this year, and who aren't exactly in olympic condition!)  Kick-off is the evening of Sept 16 with a party, live music, food and an introduction of the teams (like my own Coldwell Banker Sea Coast warriors) who will be rowing their hearts out on the colorful 45 foot long watercraft the next day.  The races start at 9:00 am Saturday, with each boat manned by 20 rowers plus a steersman and a drummer for full effect.  And of course, there will be costumes...   Racing goes on all day until the Awards Ceremony and Celebration party at 4 pm.  Saturday evening's events will feature 30 vendors serving their best fare at the Marina.  The event benefits Step Up for Soldiers.  It's free to come and watch.  You'll want to put this on your calendar!  (By the way, it's not too late to join a team!)

New Access for Love Grove

In 2013, a train derailed in the Love Grove community, blocking King Street, the only access road into the neighborhood, not only for residents but also for emergency vehicles.  It was clear this North Wilmington neighborhood, bounded by railroad tracks and Smith and Burnt Mill Creeks, needed an additional access route.  A transportation bond is allowing creation of a new access route off of One Tree Hill Way, with hoped for completed by the end of 2017.  (Check out this animation of how the road and bridge will be built.  Pretty cool!)

Link: Wilmington City - Love Grove Access


August 12 2016 Edition

Hitting Academy for Baseball Players

The UNCW Seahawks baseball team hopes to start a Hitting Academy for local baseball players who want to take their batting to the next level.  The Seahawks--coaches and players--will host the academy during their off-season, starting later this month, every Monday evening for four weeks.  
The Seahawks have had a strong season.  As a team, the Seahawks finished in the top 10 in seven offensive categories last season, including batting average, home runs, runs, hits, slugging percentage and runs per game. 
If you'd like more info about the camp, check out the link below.

Operation Pretty Things

Wilmington is a city known for its volunteerism.  There are many worthy causes, and many, many individuals willing to commit their time and effort to making the world around them a better place for everyone.  This week I'd like to focus on Operation Pretty Things (OPT), a non-profit committed to loving and empowering victims of domestic violence.  OPT works along side a number of domestic shelters throughout the region, supplying cosmetic necessities and useful community connections to clients in the shelters.  Upcoming events for OPT include their annual fund-raising gala on August 12.  But if you've missed that this year (it's sold out now), definitely attend the Wine and Fashion Show, where we'll shine a spotlight on OPT and 10% of all proceeds from the event will go to OPT.  This really fun event will be Aug 23, 6-9 pm, at Jenn's Vin wine boutique at Chandler's Wharf, 225 S. Water St., Wilmington.  The event is being sponsored by Women's Power Networking.  Use the links below to sign up to attend!

July 28 2016 Edition

Paw's Place - Opening New Indoor/Outdoor Facility

Since Paw's Place Animal Rescue opened in 1999, it has helped find loving homes for hundreds of abandoned or lost dogs.  This wonderful no-kill, non-profit organization is looking for families who will adopt their many available dogs (like Kyle, pictured here).  They also love volunteers and appreciate donations.  Coming up in September is the Raise the Ruff Gala to raise funds for the new, bigger, better indoor/outdoor kennel facility.  This will be a worthwhile AND very fun event! Check out the link for info about Paw's Place and how to buy tickets to the Gala.

Link:  Paw's Place Raise the Ruff Benefit Gala

Have You Seen What's Happening at The Pointe?

I drove by the building site for The Pointe at Barclay today and was impressed with progress being made on this new entertainment and dining mecca which will be opening at the corner of Independence and 17th.  They are scheduled for a late 2016 opening -- and maybe they'll make it!  The Pointe is the retail/commercial center of a 500-acre master-planned community.  Anchored by a 14-screen theater, the Pointe will include a mix of premium restaurants, retail stores, services and a grocery store.  (Check out the link below to see the restaurants that have already pre-leased space!)  

BTW, The Forks at Barclay planned community will include a mix of 72 single family, detached homes and 52 townhomes that will feature traditional architecture characterized by southern style, charm and character.  Interested in a new home in this perfect mid-town location?  I can help with that!

Family Fun Night at Airlie Gardens

One of the treasures of the Wilmington area is the gorgeous, 67-acre Airlie Gardens, which boasts some stunning and varied habitat -- magnolia forests, ancient live oak trees, salt marshes, freshwater ponds, acres of flowers and more.  There are lots of events and activities to choose from here, from Bird Hikes to the Summer Concert Series, and Butterfly Releases to Tram Tours.  This Saturday, July 30, is Family Fun Night, with activities for both the young and young at heart.  BTW, participants also will get a chance to meet Reilly, the goose-herding Border Collie who has been 'hired' by Airlie Gardens for a very special job.   

Link: Airlie Gardens Family Fun Night

New Visitor Center/Museum for Fort Fisher State Historic Site

Did you know the Fort Fisher State Historic Site was the most visited state historic site in North Carolina last year, with over 800,000 people walking through the museum doors and over the grounds of this Civil War battlefield?  The current visitor's center was only built to accommodate about 40,000 visitors per year, so there has been an understandable push to enlarge the facility.  Happily, State funding was just approved this month to allocate $400,000 toward creation of a new visitors center and Civil War museum.   The total cost of the new facility will be several million dollars, and The Friends of Fort Fisher organization will be responsible for raising a large portion of the additional funds needed.

July 15 Edition

Wake N Bake to Open Downtown Location

Downtown residents and visitors are in luck!  Although many thought it was well worth the drive to Carolina Beach to get their favorite Wake N Bake donut selections, very soon they will be able to simply walk to their own local neighborhood shop for a sugar over-load.  Owner Danny Tangredi recently announced plans for a Downtown satellite store at 114 Princess Street (near the popular Hell's Kitchen and Beer Barrio, if that helps to orient you.)  My recommendations in order of preference...  The Twisted Turtle (chocolate, salted carmel and pecans); The Samoas (yes, just like the Girl Scout cookies); and The Maple Bacon (you don't even have to be rabidly crazy about bacon to like this!)

Link: Wake N Bake Satellite Store

Opera Wilmington

Opera may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I love that "Opera Wilmington" has added a new dimension to Wilmington's already thriving arts and cultural scene.  Opera Wilmington made its debut as an organization in July 2014 with a luscious production of "The Merry Widow."  Opera Wilmington's goal is to draw on the rich resources of local talent to provide live, high-quality operatic performances, and to cultivate a new generation of opera lovers through educational outreach programs. So far, they are doing a spectacular job!  Coming up next is their production of Mozart's comedic opera, "Cosi Fan Tutte."  Performances are July 29 and 31, and Aug 5 and 7.  Better get your tickets quick because it will definitely sell out.   I can't wait!   (Followup:   It was a great production!   Well done and lots of fun.)

Planned Expansion at New Hanover Regional Medical Center

It's a little ways down the road, but New Hanover Regional Medical Center is making plans--hopefully to start in 2017--to build a new Orthopedic and Spine Hospital at the 17th St main campus.  It could take 3 to 5 years to construct.  The Orthopedic team, currently working out of the Cape Fear campus on Wrightsville Avenue, has been recognized by Healthgrades for 12 years in a row with a Five-Star ranking for total knee replacement.  It is also considered one of the top 10 U.S. hospitals for hip and knee replacement and one of America's top 100 hospitals for patient experience.

Fun Facts about Carolina Beach Boardwalk

 Carolina Beach Boardwalk- New

Carolina Beach Boardwalk - Old 

Did you know that the Carolina Beach Boardwalk was voted the #3 best boardwalk in America in a USAToday poll?  If you've been to the boardwalk lately and seen all the improvements and fun activities, you know why it ranks so high.  If you haven't visited in a while, check out the link to the video below -- and then plan a trip.

Did you know that the first Carolina Beach Boardwalk, which was just a flat wooden walkway on the beach, was built in 1887?   Since roads were rough or non-existent, early visitors took a steamboat down the Cape Fear River to "Sugar Loaf" (now part of Carolina Beach State Park) and then transferred to the "Shoe-Fly Train" for the trip from the riverside to the ocean.  Carnival rides have been a part of the Boardwalk experience since at least 1925.

After you've enjoyed the rides, the fireworks, the music and more of Carolina Beach -- and if you are looking for a quieter beach experience -- just head down the road to Kure Beach or the undeveloped beach at Fort Fisher State Park.

Link: WRAR Travel/Lifestyles video "Iconic CB Boardwalk"

Link: Visit Carolina Beach website

Carolina Beach in Top 12 Anchorages

As long as we're bragging about Carolina Beach this week, I'll also mention another accolade...   Marinelife magazine recently did an article on their favorite, Top 12 anchorages.  Carolina Beach was named #4, and described as "the perfect anchorage."  We all think its pretty great, too...

Area Home Sales Continue to Rebound

If you've been watching the local real estate market this summer, you know it's been a hot market.  How hot?  For home sales, this June was the best in 11 years (yes, since 2005 when we were still in the bubble).  We're up 15% over June of 2015, and this May was up 21% over May last year.   Inventory for homes under $200,000 is scant.  Do keep in mind that real estate is hyper local, so one neighborhood may see faster recoveries than others, and certainly sales of homes over $400,000 are slower than those under $200,000.  BTW, as of July 11, interest rates for a 30 yr fixed loan had fallen again, to 3.44%.  Amazing.

(July 1 edition)

Historic Preservation Committee approves policy to preserve Wilmington brick streets

Preserving Historic Brick Streets (link)

City Council approves Water Street development project

After years of discussion, this potentially amazing downtown riverfront location (currently the Water St. Parking Deck) will be developed into a mixed use property that will include apartments, retail shops, offices and parking.

 Water Street development project (link)

Great new Eateries and specialty shops opening

Already known for its great restaurants, bars and shops, there are some new names in town.  

For example, new in Monkey Junction is "Roots," a vegetarian restaurant that will bring a whole new appreciation for vegetables. 

You'll always want to check out "Grand Cru" in Lumina Station - an establishment opening soon that pairs an extensive selection of (mostly French) wines with yummy specialty dishes great for sharing.
Grand Cru - coming soon in Lumina Station

Already a big hit at his S. College Rd location, Brandon Korman just opened his second Tropical Smoothie Cafe, this time in Porter's Neck.  (It's not just about the smoothies; the food is amazing, too!)  

HGTV shines spotlight on Wilmington

HGTV's episode of their new program "Hunting Vintage," filmed in Wilmington, will air at 10 pm Tuesday July 12, and again at 1 am on Wednesday July 13.  This episode follows the efforts of a family to purchase and renovate a vintage home.  The spotlight will shine brightly on the Legacy Architectural Salvage Shop, belonging to the Historic Wilmington Foundation.  (Be sure to set your DVR!)
HGTV spotlight on Wilmington

No Surprise! Wilmington is top city for retirement in North Carolina

Recently, Bankrate came up with their list of top 200 cities nationally that are the best for retirement. Wilmington is 40 on this list -- and of the several cities name in North Carolina, Wilmington was the top.   

Next big things! Development Projects in the area

Thousands of new homes and businesses, a transformed downtown, an improved industrial corridor and the challenges associated with growth.  These were the topics of discussed at "The Next Big Things" Power Breakfast hosted by the Greater Wilmington Business Journal on June 28.  Here's a summary of the discussion of these major projects.