- Published on Thursday, 23 August 2012 22:31
- Written by Super User
One of several hotels purchased by the Town of Carolina Beach several years ago as part of a larger $4.3 million dollar land purchase to facilitate a future state-owned North Carolina Aquarium Pier on Carolina Beach Avenue North. The pier never materialized and now the Town is considering options to off-load some of the properties.
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH - A former Carolina Beach Town Council purchased over $4 million dollars in oceanfront and second row properties a few years ago to pave the way for a new state owned fishing pier on Carolina Beach Avenue North. The pier never materialized and now the Town's exploring ways to get the debt off the books.
The Council met August 16, to discuss various grant and funding options to use the land as a park from the ocean to the Town's marina spanning Carolina Beach Avenue North to Canal Drive.
Currently there are two hotels located on some of the parcels. The Town contracts with a management company each year realizing a management fee to help offset some of the debt.
The original plan called for a 1,000 foot concrete North Carolina Aquarium pier built by the State of North Carolina. Due to a poor economy and shift in party leadership in the state general assembly, funding never materialized for that project.
The Town was expected to purchase the land and give title to the state to build the pier on an oceanfront lot. The rest would be parking for the pier and some park space.
Ultimately after lengthy discussion Town Manager Tim Owens asked, "Do we put these on the market and say to heck with the grant money? Do we take a scaled down version and try to sell some of it knowing it's going to cost $400,000 dollars plus every year once we get this thing built out. Minimum $200,000 in debt service. What kind of time line are we looking at. If we decide we want to move forward on this, we need to start moving forward on planning and engineering and that could be pretty substantial cost which would have to come out of pocket."
Owens said if they want to proceed with just a park on the land, they need to make a decision to assure grant agencies of their intent to move forward.
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said an individual made an offer just under $2 million dollars for the majority of the lots but certainly far less than the Town's debt service.
The Council discussed other options to keep or sell the land.
The Council voted to sell four parcels in the 300 block of Canal Drive across from the Harbor Masters Restaurant in an effort to reduce the burden on taxpayers by reducing annual debt payments.
The Council directed Owens to move ahead with contacting New Hanover County officials for help with funding a park project on the remaining parcels including those currently home to hotels.
The parcels the Town voted to put on the market are owned directly by the Town.
The other parcels are owned by CBP3, Inc. A shell corporation created by the Town a number of years ago to purchase the bulk of the parcels separately on paper even though the corporation is controlled and funded by the Town to pay the mortgage.
CBP3 was created to purchase the properties because many state and federal grant agencies will not give funds to a local government for land they already own. Since CBP3 is listed as the owner, the Town can claim they require the grant funding in order to purchase those properties under an option written into the deeds on those properties with CBP3.