What to be on the look out for in Cumberland County in 2024

Fayetteville and Cumberland County saw several changes, plans and announcements in 2023 that will move forward into this year.

From water safety and plans to revitalize Murchison Road, Fort Bragg’s redesignation to Fort Liberty and deployments, there will also be changes in politics and an appearance by Nicki Minaj.

Here’s what to keep an eye out for in 2024.

Dreamville

In April, Fayetteville native J. Cole will return with his annual Dreamville Festival, which first started in 2019.

The yearly event brings out Cole and other national acts, with Grammy-nominated rapper Nicki Minaj confirming in December that she’ll be participating in Cole’s festival later this year.

Dreamville is set for April 6-7 at Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh.

Tickets for the Dreamville Festival start at $299.99 and are available now on dreamvillefest.com.

J. Cole performs during Dreamville Festival in April 2023 at Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh. Cole will be back with the annual festival in April this year.
J. Cole performs during Dreamville Festival in April 2023 at Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh. Cole will be back with the annual festival in April this year.

Major headliner announced for J. Cole's 2024 Dreamville Festival

Murchison Road

Improvements to Fayetteville’s historically Black Murchison Road corridor have been ongoing, with the state approving $172 million in November 2021 to go toward multiple projects.

Projects include:

• $600,000 for more stoplights and walk buttons at pedestrian crossings

• $750,000 for community health centers

• $63 million for new residence halls, repairs and renovations and a new parking deck at Fayetteville State University

• $2.5 million for the Martin Luther King Jr. Park on Blue Street

The Murchison Choice Neighborhood Plan,  a plan for the corridor to become a “choice neighborhood,” or a neighborhood where people want to live, was finalized in March,

The plan focuses on improving affordable housing, quality of life and the cultural identity of the corridor.

The city has applied for a  $50 million grant to raze and rebuild two public housing sites as mixed-income developments. 

It also suggests replacing the former Walmart with a new grocery store and establishing walking paths and crosswalks and mixed-income housing and offices at a city-owned property on Bruner Street.

Meanwhile, state officials are in the process of acquiring land to improve traffic flow, safety and pedestrian accessibility.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2025 for improvements to the road from Interstate 295 to the U.S. 401 Bypass.

Chick-fil-A is expected to soon open at Bronco Midtown, which is across from Fayetteville State University.

Nonprofit Way2Real also has plans to use $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act money to convert the now-vacant former home of Christ Cathedral Church at  2400 Murchison Road into a community center aimed at youth enrichment with a tutoring program.

A local nonprofit plans to use a former church on Murchison Road as a community center.
A local nonprofit plans to use a former church on Murchison Road as a community center.

What's new on Murchison Road? An update on the historically Black corridor's transformation

Fayetteville has big plans for Murchison Road. Now it's seeking $50 million to make it happen

Liberty leaders and deployments

Fort Liberty has a few commands expecting new leaders this year, and a few deployed units to keep an eye on.

About 200 paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division’s Task Force 82 are deployed to Europe for a regular rotational deployment to support NATO and the Army’s V Corps with regional security force assistance, while the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade is deployed to the Middle East under Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, which advises and assists partner forces in the region to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Also deployed to the Middle East is a Fort Liberty Patriot missile battalion.

Among the possible command changes, based on commanders usually being in the spot for 2-3 years, are the Fort Liberty garrison, 18th Airborne Corps and U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

Col. John Wilcox has led the garrison since June 2022.

Lt. Gen. Christopher Donahue has led the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Liberty since March 2022.

Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga has commanded USASOC since August 2021.

Command Sgt. Maj. James Journigan, left to right, Col. Kirsten Schwenn and Chief Warrant 5 Timothy Shrewsbury case the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade colors during a casing ceremony on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, ahead of its deployment to the Middle East.
Command Sgt. Maj. James Journigan, left to right, Col. Kirsten Schwenn and Chief Warrant 5 Timothy Shrewsbury case the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade colors during a casing ceremony on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, ahead of its deployment to the Middle East.

82nd Task Force takes authority in Europe

82nd Combat Aviation Brigade cases colors ahead of Middle East deployment

Fort Liberty troops among those deploying to Middle East

Political changes

In addition to a presidential election, a new governor for North Carolina and national and state seats that have drawn opponents, Cumberland County will see leadership changes with the 2024 election.

Longtime Rep. Marvin Lucas, who was first elected to the North Carolina General Assembly in 2000, did not file for the House District 42 seat.

Democrats seeking the seat include Spring Lake physician Naveed Aziz; Fayetteville Councilwoman Courtney Banks-McLaughlin, who filed for the seat Friday; Mike Colvin, brother of Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin; and former state Rep. Elmer Floyd.

The winner of the March 5 primary will face Republican Leonard L. Bryant.

Cumberland County Commissioners Jimmy Keefe and Michael Boose, have terms expiring in December 2024 and did not file for reelection to District 2, which has three open seats.

Democratic candidates are incumbent Toni Stewart, former Fayetteville City Councilman and state Sen. Kirk deViere, Karla Icaza and Ronald Pittman.

Republicans seeking one of the three District 2 seats include Venus de la Cruz, Peter Pappas, Pavan D. Patel, Ron Ross, V. Lee Spruill III, Jeremy Stanley, Jonathan C. Strange and Henry Tyson.  

2024 election: Here's who has filed for office in Cumberland County and statewide

Business development

Among new restaurants opening this year are:

• Jaggers, Texas Roadhouse's fast-casual burger concept, slated to open Feb. 19 at 515 N. McPherson Church Road

• Caribbean chain eatery Bahama Breeze is slated to open Feb. 5 at Cross Creek Mall

• Southern Pines Brewing opening a rooftop bar on Hay Street early this summer in downtown.

• Construction is expected to start this year on $40 million shopping center with a big box retailer plus restaurants and other stores at 3900 Ramsey St.

• Pennsylvania-based convenience store chain Wawa also has plans to open stores in Hope Mills and Fayetteville.

• While plans to open an Amazon Fulfillment Center warehouse in the Military Business Park off Bragg Boulevard and Interstate 295 were postponed in the fall, the head of economic development for Fayetteville and Cumberland County still expects the project to happen.

Bahama Breeze, a Caribbean restaurant and grill, at the Cross Creek Mall is set to open Feb. 5.
Bahama Breeze, a Caribbean restaurant and grill, at the Cross Creek Mall is set to open Feb. 5.

What's coming to the Fayetteville food scene this year? Get the list

= Grocery store, ‘big box’ shopping center coming to Ramsey Street. Here’s where they’ll be

Is Amazon’s big warehouse in Fayetteville still going to open?

Chemicals and water

The Gray’s Creek area of Cumberland County has GenX-contaminated wells that have forced students and staff at Alderman and Gray’s Creek elementary schools to use bottled water since 2017.

GenX is a member of a large group of man-made chemical compounds used in commercial products.  The compound has been linked to several types of cancer among other health problems.

The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners sued The Chemours Co. in 2022 alleging its Fayetteville Works factory at the Bladen-Cumberland county line has contaminated drinking water wells of county residents with toxic chemicals since the 1970s.

Since 2017, the N.C. Dept. of Environmental Quality has required Chemours to reduce releasing the chemicals.

A consent order, which was entered into by Chemours, the N.C. Dept. of Environmental Quality and Cape Fear River Watch outlines Chemors’ requirements to address the contamination.

A lawsuit is pending, while residents in the Gray’s Creek community of southern Cumberland County still use bottled water and filtration systems, and commissioners want a public water system built and selected an engineering firm in December for the project.

In July, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced that contaminants known as “forever chemicals” were found in fish from the Cape Fear River.

One year later, Cumberland County tainted water lawsuit against Chemours still unresolved

Going fishing on the Cape Fear River? State health officials say you may want to reconsider.

EPA decision: Fayetteville Chemours cannot import millions of pounds of waste with GenX, for now

$15M awarded to build water lines to Gray’s Creek homes, schools with contaminated wells

Worth mentioning

While plans don’t call for construction to start in 2024, discussions are expected to continue this year about where a new E.E. Smith High School will be located; Methodist University’s partnership with Cape Fear Valley Health for a local medical school; and a new performing arts center in Cumberland County.

Cumberland County also has plans for a homeless resource center, while the city of Fayetteville has plans to convert an old hotel on South Eastern Boulevard into an apartment building for homeless people.  

Staff writer Rachael Riley can be reached at rriley@fayobserver.com or 910-486-3528.

This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: What to expect in Cumberland County for 2024