Westgate: Small Town Living Meets Urban Accesibility
By Marybeth G. Cale

With the number of housing developments sprouting up in our beautiful corner of southeastern North Carolina, many of us wonder who the minds are behind these masterfully laid-out neighborhoods and why they have chosen Leland. Recent figures show that Brunswick County is the 17th fastest-growing county in the United States, so there are obvious economic incentives to being a frontiersman here.

For Nathan Sanders, the work goes beyond strategic investing. For this well-known developer, his career is about making others feel at home and creating communities that serve the changing world in which we live. This is evident in his latest project, Westgate, “A Southern Village of Homes and Commerce.”

Westgate, a large mixed-use neighborhood, contains not only an array of retail, service, office and restaurant choices, it also contains one of the largest parcels of multi-family zoned land in the Southeast. Sanders’ multi-level development plan for Westgate is making it most attractive for Brunswick County, and the first of multiple entrances are now open on Westgate Drive and Oceangate Plaza, on either side of the new Super Wal-Mart Center.

Sanders is well-known in his field and he is the man who is largely responsible for the forthcoming redevelopment of the “Middle of the Island” at Wrightsville Beach. He is not only warm and personable, but also highly talented in creating the right mix of architecture, function, affordability, quality and accessibility in all of his projects. His career has spanned almost three decades in the region, though he remains humble when asked about his efforts.

As Principal owner of Oceangate, LLC, as well as Dominion Land Corporation, this longtime Wilmington resident works intelligently, pursuing areas that are ripe for growth and studying the patterns around them that make the population explosions likely. “The trick is, you have to find out where the people are going and get there first,” he laughs, with a natural merriment that is contagious from the moment you meet him. “And, instead of developing individual lots, we develop tracts of land and a vision for an entire community to be built upon those tracts of land. We then work with terrific builders who we feel can best develop the individual neighborhoods.”

One such builder is Sanders’ friend, Howard Penton III, owner/principal of Penton Development. Penton is a native Wilmingtonian and has been in the business for more than 20 years. He is now fully engaged in this Leland project.

“I was looking for an appropriate place with a critical mass of retail and office space,” Penton says. “Nathan finds areas that can provide the right synergy, and I knew I wanted to be involved in his project.”

Penton is embarking on the sales phase of Shoreline at Westgate, which will consist of single-level, all-brick townhomes starting at $169,900. With many upgrades already included in that price, this is a perfect option for homebuyers in the townhome market. One of Penton’s attributes is he does not use separate subcontractors for each building phase but rather employs experts in every aspect of the process as part of his company team.

“Penton Development is a good example of the quality of developers we are selecting for Westgate,” says Sanders. “We want people who provide that high-quality product at an affordable price and create neighborhoods that are consistent with our larger goal of maintaining a small-town feel with the convenience of a larger metropolitan area.”

As for that affordable price, Penton’s pricing estimates of about $118/square foot for an all brick home, are unheard of these days.

To create that small-town feel, Sanders envisions each neighborhood with amenities like pools, clubhouses and the like, encouraging neighborhood gatherings and a sense of place for everyone who chooses to make this part of Leland their home. He also wants maintenance free living in such ways as landscaping  packages standard for homeowners in neighborhoods like Shoreline at Westgate.

And what do they say in the real estate world? Location, location, location. No doubt Sanders has picked just the right site for this initiative. With more than 10,000 cars a day expected at the new Super Wal-Mart Center, it is clear that people are doing their business here  in Brunswick County, despite the options just over the river. The bridges can be tough to time for Leland residents—and so the need continues to grow for more shopping, dining and office space on our side of the river. And as the businesses build, the demand for housing simultaneously increases. Sanders saw this demand first-hand already when Hunterstone, which includes nearly 300 apartments in Westgate, opened. “We have been very pleased with Hunterstone,” he said.

“Leland is just an up-and-coming area. Everyone wants to live here—with proximity to great beaches, easy access to Downtown Wilmington—but with the peace of the country,” he shares. “I spotted this property in the late nineties and felt it was clear that people would want to live here. The property backs up on a nature preserve on one side, 146 of the acres border Jackeys Creek; there are beautiful ponds, nice elevation changes and residents can enjoy all of the convenience of urban living because of its location adjacent to the large and growing shopping area and easy access via Route 17.  As people try to find that place that gives them everything they need to live well, I know that they will be happy to find Westgate.”

Sanders sees Westgate as an all-encompassing development, where residents can have everything they need very close by.

“I want people to be able to come home from work and not have to get back in their cars until the next day,” Sanders exclaims with enthusiasm. “We will have streetlights throughout and a neighborhood that includes the potential for 2,500 homes that are close to everything, giving people a sense of community that they want and need at any age. They can get their groceries, shop, do banking, go to their favorite restaurant—everything will be a walk or a bike-ride away,” he says, “and Westgate will have extensive walking and bicycle trails”

With restaurants, retail shopping, office spaces, professional services and a full mixed-use plan, all accessible with a walk, bike ride or quick ride on the golf cart, easy living here in Leland will be easy to come by.