City of Wilmington approves Bijou Park renovations

Andrew Lemon, Contributing Writer

At the Feb. 2 Wilmington City Council meeting, councilmembers unanimously passed an ordinance to begin renovations to Bijou Park. The .13 acre park is located at 209 N. Front St. in the heart of downtown Wilmington.

The project will involve the demolition of the park’s current infrastructure, and the addition of features such as a raised planter, screen panels, overhead string lighting, a green wall, as well as an update of the park’s landscape elements.

“The city has several goals in renovating this historic park, including creating a safer neighborhood by making the park have a more open layout and additional lighting,” said city officials. 

The economic impact of the project was also emphasized. 

“Promoting community engagement through attractive park improvements, and incorporating local art will encourage people to enjoy the amenities around it, increasing the area’s economic value,” said city officials.

Yet another key factor in the decision to renovate Bijou park is its location. The updated park will provide mid-block connection, serving as a “gateway from Front Street to the newly redeveloped River Place and Water Street.”

Current renovation plans for Bijou Park. (Photo provided by Jennifer Dandron – Media Manager for Wilmington City Manager’s Office)

City officials also affirmed the project’s goal of incorporating sustainable planning and architecture into the renovated space. 

“The city is committed to sustainability, as demonstrated by the measures we’ve taken for this project,” said city officials. “The green wall will use a direct drip irrigation that ensures each plant gets its own water and avoids overwatering and overspray. The plant pallet consists of native and locally adaptive plants that are well suited for this park and have reduced demands for irrigation. 

“The proposed concrete mix will include a minimum of 20% recycled content, as well as having a high Solar Reflectance Index (SRI) value that will reflect the sunlight and reduce urban heat gain. We have integrated innovative green infrastructure for the proposed trees. ‘Tree root paths’ will be installed that allow the tree roots to spread out and thrive.”

The renovations come with a price tag of $604,795, with the contract being awarded to Muter Construction. Muter Construction is also currently working on a three-building addition for Cape Fear Community College. The project is expected to break ground in March of 2021, with the park expected to reopen to the public in the summer.