Wilmington has grown exponentially over the past couple of years. To accommodate this increase in population, new neighborhoods, restaurants, and shopping centers are frequently being built. New Hanover County dictates what can be built on a property through zoning ordinances. The main zoning districts are commercial, residential, mixed-use, and overlay. 

Types of Commercial Zones

  • B-1 Business District – Neighborhood-type commercial uses like restaurants, barber shops, and drug stores. These are typically small commercial properties. 
  • B-2 Highway Business District – Large shopping centers or big box stores. 
  • O&I Business District – This district allows institutional uses, professional offices, and other compatible offices to reside in the same area. 
  • I-1 Industrial District – Small industrial uses like contractor offices. 
  • I-2 Industrial District – This can be minor industrial uses, as well as uses that are more extensive scale. 
  • Exceptional Design Zoning District – This mixed-use district allows retail, office, and residential in the same area. 

If the type of business you want is in a zone that doesn’t correlate, don’t give up! Zoning ordinances can be changed if a “rezoning” request gets approved by the planning board or commission and then the municipal council or the county’s board of commissioners. 

The most popular choice for Wilmington developers is mixed-use developments. These areas are so successful since people will likely stop at the other commercial businesses in the same development. Understanding zoning can be difficult, but that’s what we’re here for. If you have any questions about Wilmington’s zoning, contact us