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Hotel Developer Submits Drawings To Carolina Beach Planning Department

Architectural drawings were submitted to the Town of Carolina Beach Planning Department last week by a developer seeking permission to build a new oceanfront Hampton Inn and Suites on the northern end of the Boardwalk.  The Planning Board and Town Council will have to consider the project before a final decision is made.

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - Developers submitted updated architectural drawings to the Town of Carolina Beach last week for a proposed Hampton Inn and Suites on the northern end of the downtown Boardwalk on the oceanfront at the intersection of Harper Avenue and Carolina Beach Avenue North.
Last month Blanchard & Calhoun Commercial, a real estate development and commercial brokerage firm in Augusta, Georgia, sent a letter to the Town saying they are ready to move forward and outlined aspects of the project including a proposal to lease town parking spaces and make other improvements in the area.
John Lee of Blanchard & Calhoun Commercial wrote to Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin on June 4th that Vic Mills - Chief Executive Officer - had a productive conversation with Mayor Bob Lewis on Friday, May 24th.
Lee explained, "Following up on that conversation, we have continued to have our architect and civil engineers work on our final site and building plans, which incorporates the general understanding of both parties. Hopefully, this understanding will be confirmed at the upcoming City Council meeting."
Lee explained, "The site is very similar to the previous version, but more efficient and simplified. Circulation is greatly improved. We have “squared” up the site on the beach front to include the piece the city will deed to us."
He explained, "Parking – we have 69 hotel parking spaces under the hotel on the ground and 48 spaces on the city lot across the street. This lot will be dedicated parking for the hotel guest and will have gates with key card access."
Lee said they reduced the number of stories from 10 to 8 and guest room count from 106 to 100. He explained, " We were also able to enlarge the deck area and “squared-off” the pool. We think this will be a great wedding destination."
Lee said a previous issue with First Bank regarding a lien on the portion of Carolina Beach Avenue North that was closed for the previous developer has been resolved. The Town agreed to close a portion of that road to accommodate the project which owned land on either side of the road.  
Lee inquired about the process to begin site plan and permitting approval and expressed a desire to hold a ground breaking ceremony soon.
Parvin explained June 4th the developer must submit an application and fee for a Conditional Use Permit, provide a traffic impact analysis, and an economic impact study.
Parvin said the process for deeding any property to the developer depends on the type of ownership. Also, a parking agreement will have to be approved by the Council to lease spaces in the Town's public parking lot and the Town will require a road closure agreement. Also, they must submit plans for other improvements to the surrounding boardwalk right-of-ways.
Parvin explained, "Please note that once your application has been submitted to staff our Town Council can no longer communicate with anyone (i.e. you, staff, community members) as the quasi judicial process will have started."
In 2007 a previous development company proposed a Hilton Garden Inn on the same property. That project called for 191 rooms in an 11-story building with a 5,632 square foot conference facility and a 200 seat Sundeck Pavilion restaurant. Last year the new developer indicated to the Planning Department the number of rooms would decrease from 191 to between 90 and 130 rooms and 11 floors or less.
Mayor Bob Lewis explained last month he estimates the hotel will bring $30,000 a year in property taxes, over $100,000 in room occupancy tax revenues to fund beach nourishment projects and tourism promotion and create additional jobs. Also, he estimates an additional $70,000 a year in water and sewer revenues. He explained, "This type of development was part of the reason the town built the new sewer lift station in the Central Business District last year." 
He explained the project could generate 40 full time job opportunities for residents and, "Support additional hiring opportunities and additional increases in revenue for our business community."
Lewis explained, "The Hotel is proposing to lease a small group of parking spaces annually from the town to fulfill their franchise requirements. The developer is also looking to participate in the revitalization of the old wooden boardwalk along its ocean frontage."
Lewis explained, "These new revenue sources can provide our town with the ability to pay for or offset the cost of town services without the need for property tax increases."
He explained, "Since this project will be coming to council for a Conditional Use Permit all of council will have to evaluate the plan and the developers proposed conditions prior to this project moving forward.  Council can also require
certain conditions in order to approve the CUP application and as in every process you the public will get your chance to voice your opinions. Council in our deliberation will work hard to create a win-win opportunity for our residents and business owners."
Lewis said, "Our choices as a town council is to work for the betterment of the community by investing time to work through the challenges and develop a positive solution for our community or as some residents not allow any development.  I understand that there are a few town residents who do not want any more economic development in Carolina Beach and really like the look of the empty lots and buildings in our business district."
He explained, "I for one am tired of driving by the numerous empty lots in the Central Business District every day. I take pride in my community and I love Carolina Beach and it is tough for me to see all the improvements we have made to the town and specifically the Central Business District and look at empty lots and empty buildings. Based on my 40 years of corporate management experience I see the new oceanfront hotel as a cornerstone for future economic growth for our town."
He said, "As taxpayers we have already invested in some infrastructure improvements (water and sewer) in the Central Business District over the past 5 years and to support future growth and mostly to replace old deteriorating pipes and pumps.  This future hotel and other developments could begin to provide all of us a return on our investment by offsetting future infrastructure improvement costs to property owners."