By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH – The Carolina Beach Town Council unanimously approved of a permit to construct a new Hampton Inn and Suites at 1 Harper Avenue on the Carolina Beach Boardwalk during their November 12th, meeting.
The Council considered a request for a conditional use permit to construct an eight story tall 100 room oceanfront Hampton Inn and Suites on the northern end of the Boardwalk. Southeastern, a real estate development and commercial brokerage firm in Augusta, Georgia, purchased the property from a previous owner who had planned to construct a Hilton Garden Inn at the same location.
This site was previously approved for a 191-room 125 feet tall hotel in 2007. The site has since been sold and is a completely different project from the previous approval.
Currently on the site is 170’ of right of way for Carolina Beach Avenue N. and 41,930 sq. ft. of vacant land. The building site property is .96 acres located in the CBD. The proposed structure is 87.5’ feet in height. The footprint of the structure is 22,626 square feet.
A pool will be located on the second floor, along with a breakfast café, outside bar area and an outside seating area. This will be alongside the future elevated boardwalk and will be directly accessible from the boardwalk. The café will operate for service to hotel guests. Bicycle racks will be provided on the ground floor adjacent to Harper Ave. The hotel will have direct access to the boardwalk to promote the use of boardwalk facilities and entertainment.
The project requires 100 parking spaces. 73 of those spaces are provided on the hotel property. The developer is asking for a waiver for 9 spaces lowering the requirement to 91 spaces overall. The three public parking lots between Harper Avenue and Carl Winner Street will be redesigned to act as one large parking lot by the developer to increase available parking. 18 spaces in the parking lot closest to the Boardwalk area near the corner of Harper Avenue and Canal Drive will be designated for hotel use. The developer said those spaces would typically only be needed during the busy peak times of the summer tourist season. The spaces will be labeled as hotel parking spaces.
Dan Wilcox said he favors the project but expressed concern with the location of spaces to be designated for hotel use.
He said the value of those spaces outweighs the revenues generated by parking fees because they serve as convenient parking for people visiting businesses on the Boardwalk.
Wilcox urged the developer to consider moving those spaces farther away to preserve parking spaces that have a faster turnover rate for frequent use than long term hotel parking. He said, “They are extremely important for the economics of the Central Business District.”
Town Manager Michael Cramer said lease terms are a subject that can be negotiated once the conditional use permit has been approved.
Mayor Bob Lewis explained last week, “This new project will bring 50 new full time jobs to Carolina Beach many if not all paying benefits. The Hotel as part of the CUP is going to re-configure, pave and landscape the current town lots along Canal and Harper all the way to the Marina. They are also going to grade, gravel and lay out 48 additional new parking spaces which should generate over $40,000 of new parking revenue on the town owned lots between Canal and Carolina Beach Avenue North.
He explained, “They are going to provide a new entryway with landscaping on the North side of the boardwalk to create more of an inviting focal point on the North end of the boardwalk area. This area now needs a major uplift. The hotel when finished in spring of 2015 will also provide significant new town revenue in the form or water and sewer fees, Room Occupancy Taxes, Sales Taxes and Property Taxes for our town. These types of revenues are positive ways of offsetting impacts on our future property taxes for infrastructure investments and also future beach nourishment projects. Everyone I have talked to sees this as a huge win for our town and our residents. I want to thank our interim town manager and current assistant manager, Ed Parvin, our entire staff and council for teaming together to help make this new Oceanfront hotel project a reality. I want to invite all the residents and boardwalk business owners to attend the groundbreaking ceremony planned for next month. (Date and Time to be Announced).”
Following approval of the conditional use permit for the hotel project, the Council approved closing a 170′ portion of Carolina Beach Avenue North to facilitate the hotel project.
The developer owns property on either side of that portion of the road. Now closed, the road will become part of the hotel property.