WILMINGTON — What will Dunn look like in 10 or 20 years?
How about a city with a movie theater, more full-service restaurants, a passenger rail terminal, made over strip malls and a downtown entertainment district? Those were all needs added to the city’s to-do list during the Imagine Dunn visioning process.
Eight months into the yearlong planning operation, conducted in the throes of a global pandemic — city leaders now have an idea of what comes next and what to do about it after getting 62 draft recommendations from Arnett Muldrow & Associates during a Dunn budget retreat Friday in Wilmington.
The Greenville, South Carolina-based planning firm, conducted community surveys, met with stakeholders and studied market and demographic details to lay the “foundational framework of the strategic plan.” The plan was presented via video at the retreat.
The study drew the eyes of more than 3,000 community members in the city of 9,680 residents.
“Some of the demographic takeaways that we saw was that Dunn’s a little bit older. The median age is just above 40,” said Aaron Arnett, a partner with the firm, in the video. “Your income levels lag in the region and you have higher poverty rates than other communities within the region. But you’re also in a fast growth area. You’re growth rate is slower than that of the region, but the growth is coming and is projected to continue.”
About 70% of Dunn’s housing units are single-family homes.
43% of Dunn’s residents are renters.
53% of renters spend more than 30% of their monthly income on housing costs (rent and utilities) in Dunn; 30% of those renters spend more than half of their monthly earnings on housing. The rent standard for most rental housing programs was capped at 30% of a renter’s total monthly income in 1981. That standard remains in place today. Those who spend more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities are considered to be “cost burdened.” Those who pay more than 50% are considered to be “severely cost burdened.”
21.32% of families (one in five) live below the poverty line in Dunn.
Dunn’s median household income is $33,340.
Population has increased by 4.5% in the past 10 years.
A market study conducted through Imagine Dunn revealed the city lost nearly $35 million in retail to full service restaurants within a 25-minute drive. The retail leakage study also reflected a $32 million loss to other communities in the same area when it came to clothing stores.
“Essentially, it’s a supply and demand analysis that helps us identify what opportunities there are for growth in a number of retail categories based on current demand,” Arnett said of the retail leakage analysis.
Other retail losses were reported in electronics stores ($10.6 million), furniture shops ($8.1 million), specialty food stores and shops selling sporting goods (each with more than $5 million in leakage).
The retail losses were mirrored in answers to an Imagine Dunn community survey question polling people on what types of retail and restaurant businesses are needed in the city. A movie theater, family-friendly restaurants, fine dining restaurants, family-friendly entertainment and clothing stores made the top five suggestions.
Imagine Dunn drafted 62 strategies for growth. Council and city staff narrowed down the 62 goals into the following 12 high priorities:
Emily Weaver can be reached at email@example.com or at 910-230-2028.