Contact: Leah Knepper

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Wilmington, N.C., is Open for Business:

Destination Welcomes Groups Back Following Hurricane Florence

Convention District investments resume, topping $426.1M to date

Wilmington, N.C. – Oct. 30, 2018 – Wilmington, N.C., is open for business once again following Hurricane Florence. The Wilmington Convention Center, meeting hotels, facilities and venues are open and eager to welcome meetings, conventions and sports events back to the area following the storm, as are area attractions, restaurants and retailers. In addition, millions of dollars in riverfront and Convention District developments have resumed.

“It was heartwarming to see the outpouring of love and support for Wilmington following the storm that impacted the area earlier this fall,” said Kim Hufham, President and CEO of the Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). “Local officials, business owners, residents and volunteers worked hard to quickly get things back up and running following the storm, and we are excited to officially welcome groups back to the destination they know and love.”

Wilmington’s new Convention District – which the destination announced in mid-2017 – is located riverfront and within the city’s walkable River District, connected by a nearly two-mile scenic Riverwalk. The Convention District is anchored by the Wilmington Convention Center, the largest convention center on North Carolina’s coast. A transformation of Wilmington’s riverfront is underway, with recent additions and future transformation coming to the award-winning riverfront and beyond. In the last five years alone, there have been $426.1 million in Convention District investments.

Wilmington’s Convention District is home to a new riverfront Embassy Suites and the newly renovated Hotel Ballast Tapestry Collection by Hilton, along with the Wilmington Convention Center, restaurants and an event pier. Openings and developments in the Convention District include:


  • The Hampton Inn Downtown officially opened its doors last year. The property offers 92 guest rooms and suites, along with a 1,222 square-foot meeting room for up to 75 people.
  • Located adjacent to the Wilmington Convention Center, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Wilmington Riverfront Hotel opened this year with 186 two-room guest suites and 6,600 square feet of meeting space. Cloud 9, a 4,003 square-foot roof deck and bar located on the ninth floor, features expansive views of the Cape Fear River and downtown Wilmington.
  • Additional new properties will include the Aloft Hotel: a 125-room property featuring a rooftop courtyard with a fire pit and bistro, as well as 7,000 square feet of meeting space; and two more yet-to-be-named downtown hotels.
  • The Hotel Ballast, Tapestry Collection by Hilton recently completed an $11 million renovation. The project included complete guestroom and guest bath renovations, the addition of a bridal suite, a refresh of the guest corridor, and complete renovations to all public areas of the property. All ballrooms and meeting spaces at the hotel received a complete rejuvenation, along with a transformation of the outdoor pool area and the addition of two new restaurant concepts. One of these concepts, Board & Barrel, is an indoor/outdoor bespoke bourbon bar offering sweeping views of the Cape Fear River.

Restaurants and Entertainment

  • Several new riverfront restaurants are opening in the heart of the River District, including the now open Marina Grill.
  • The Pier 33 Entertainment Venue, a waterfront venue perfect for weddings, live music and private events, can accommodate more than 4,000 people and is located on the water at Port City Marina, a 204-slip protected, deep water, full-service marina adjacent to the Wilmington Convention Center.
  • The largest and most technologically advanced performance center in Eastern N.C., the Wilson Center features the best of Broadway, a sampling of stars and a dash of dance. The Center is also available for group rentals with seating for 1,600 people.
  • Celebrity Chef Vivian Howard (PBS Emmy award-winning “A Chef’s Life”) recently opened Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria in Wilmington’s South Front neighborhood. Food & Wine magazine has named Vivian Howard one of the “20 Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink.”

Attractions and Infrastructure

  • Wilmington’s Riverwalk received improvements last spring, including a new streetscape at the foot of Market Street. Future work will involve more streetscape and Riverfront Park improvements. When finished, the Riverwalk will run for more than two miles.
  • River Place, a 13-story mixed-use building with condominiums, apartments and a parking deck, along with nearly 32,000 square feet of retail space overlooking the river, is expected to be finished in late 2019.
  • Located adjacent to Port City Marina, plans for the new North Waterfront Park are well underway. Among the park’s planned features are a children’s play area, splash plaza, beer gardens, extensive open lawn space, an inland boardwalk and connection to the Riverwalk. The largest feature is an outdoor performance space that will host outdoor events and concerts managed by Live Nation. Construction is slated to begin in early 2019.

“There’s a good reason why Wilmington was voted as America's Best Riverfront and named one of TripAdvisor’s 2018 Travelers’ Choice ‘Top Destinations on the Rise,’” added Hufham. “Our Convention District has seen tremendous growth over the past several years, and we look forward to continuing that momentum moving forward. We are excited to welcome back meeting and event attendees, along with athletes and spectators, to experience just what makes Wilmington so special and resilient for themselves.”