Michael Jordan Museum planned as part of Project Grace

County Executive Chris Coudriet announced Thursday plans for a Michael Jordan museum as part of Project Grace, a partnership with the Jordan family. (Port City Daily/Amy Passaretti Willis)

SEATTLE, N.C. — A Wilmington native hailed as the “greatest basketball player of all time” could be part of a new development breaking ground in downtown Wilmington, according to the NBA and be commended.

read more: ‘We’re all in’: Local developer committed to Grace plan

New Hanover County Supervisor Chris Coudriet announced Thursday morning during the Wilmington Business Journal’s Power Breakfast series that the Michael Jordan Museum is under construction. It will honor the achievements of athletes and will be located on the corner of Third and Chestnut Streets.

The free-standing building will be part of the Grace Plan, a public-private partnership between the Cape Fear Development Corporation and the county to merge the existing library with the Cape Fear Museum. CFD will oversee a mixed-use project featuring retail, restaurants and residential.

“Would you believe me if I told you there was an opportunity, or a partnership we could create, that would define the journey, hard work and commitment it takes to become a GOAT?” Kuderit said after announcing the museum. The audience of 500 gave him a standing ovation. “GOAT, yes, the greatest of all time – do you believe these things are possible in our community?”

The county has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Jordan family to explore the museum in the coming year. Kuderit told the breakfast it would highlight “the achievements and legacy of what I consider to be one of the greatest stories in sports history.”

The memorandum of understanding will outline next steps in the planning phase, including schematic design and operational details for the partnership, according to a county news release. Funding for this phase will be included as part of the Project Grace master plan budget and is expected to be available in 2024.

The county did not say how much the breakfast would cost or who would foot the bill for the museum.

The Cape Fear Museum currently houses the permanent exhibit “Michael Jordan: Achieving Success,” which was created in the 1980s to honor Jordan. The county worked with the Jordan family to retrieve the exhibits. His name also appears in the Michael Jordan Discovery Gallery, a hands-on science exhibit at the museum for students to learn about ecosystems and geology, weather, plants and animals.

“I recommend going to the Cape Fear Museum before the sun goes down today to see how it translates into new partnerships,” Kuderit said.

Although a portion of I-40 is named after Jordan and his name appears at the Michael Jordan Athletic Center at Laney High School, his alma mater, there has been no permanent recognition of him locally on a large scale. Although his illustrious basketball career began in Wilmington.

“Our community is steeped in history, and while many famous families have their roots in New Hanover County, none are more notable than those with ties to basketball’s biggest icon, Michael Jordan,” New Hanover County commissioners said in a joint statement Thursday morning. released in a statement.

Jordan attended and played basketball at Laney High School in the 1970s and ’80s, then played at UNC Chapel Hill for the Tar Heels from 1981 to 1984. Played for and won the NCAA championship. He then joined the NBA’s Chicago Bulls in 1993 before retiring from Major League Baseball for two years. Jordan returned to the court from 1995 to 1998, winning a total of six national championships with the Bulls. He also played for the Washington Wizards for three years before officially retiring.

The player has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame (he won two gold medals in 1984 and 1991), the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, and the FIBA ​​Hall of Fame. However, he is absent from the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame.

After his basketball career ended, Jordan became a co-owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets for 13 years before selling his stake in August of this year.

He has also funded numerous Michael Jordan Family Medicine clinics, including $7 million in construction of two clinics in Charlotte over the past five years. These facilities partner with Novant Health to provide comprehensive primary care and mental health services to at-risk populations.

In 2021, Jordan announced that it would spend $10.1 million to build two more clinics in Wilmington, which are currently under construction. They will be located at Greenfield, 15th Street, 30th Street and Princess Place Drive.

Follow along: Novant breaks ground on first Michael Jordan Clinic in Wilmington

return: Second Michael Jordan Clinic to Serve Wilmington’s Eastside Community

The announcement of the Jordan Museum is the latest in a series of steps being taken to realize Project Grace. The Grace project has been part of New Hanover County’s plan since 2017, although it didn’t receive full approval until September when the Local Government Commission narrowly approved financing.

The Grace project began as a partnership between the county and Zimmer Development Group, which changed hands to the developer last year after LGC declined financing. Cape Fear Development took over the project in March.

Cape Fear Development worked with architects LS3P and construction team Monteith to tweak the plans, which the county says saved taxpayers $4.6 million from the original concept. The total cost of the 95,000-square-foot library and museum is $57 million, funded by the county.

The redevelopment project will take place on a 3-acre block along Grace Street between Second and Third streets in downtown Wilmington. Crews broke ground last month and in early December razed the Bobst Building to create the new library and museum.

Thereafter, the existing library will be demolished to make way for private development. The county will sell the southern portion of the neighborhood to Cape Fear Development for no less than $3.5 million. The developer has committed $30 million to the private mixed-use project.

(Editor’s note: This post has been updated to correct Coudriet’s quote: “If I told you there was an opportunity or that we could create a partnership that defined the journey, hard work and commitment, would you believe me?” Goat ?” PCD regrets this error.)

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