Demolition Underway For Cape Fear Blvd. Building

Demolition Underway For Cape Fear Blvd. Building

Demolition Underway For Cape Fear Blvd. Building Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 20 January 2021 03:23

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - A long standing building at 101 Cape Fear Blvd. is currently being demolished to make way for a future development. In the interim, the lot may host amusement rides during the summer of 2021.

According to the Federal Point Historic Society, the building was built in the early 1940's and was home to the, "Bame Esso Service Station and Grocery next door. The station and grocery was run by J. C. “Mike” Bame. It started as just a station, later they added the grocery store and a second story with rooms to rent. Eventually another two story building was added to the back that housed apartments."

Amusement rides are one step closer to returning to the Carolina Beach Boardwalk area in the near future pending approval by the Town of Carolina Beach.

The Town Council was scheduled to consider a request for placement of rides in that area during their January 12th, regular meeting. However, that agenda item was rescheduled to the Council's February meeting.

The Planning and Zoning Commission approved  a request submitted last month to bring rides back to the Boardwalk area during their Thursday December 10th, meeting. The Town's Technical Review Committee reviewed a request for permission to bring rides back to the Boardwalk area during their November 16th, meeting. The request from Carolina Beach Land Holdings, LLC, seeks to expand the area available for placement of rides and concession stands from 34,404 square feet to 58,259 sq. ft. (1.34 acres) combined across multiple properties. 

The previous operation was operated by Mergerle's Magic and Hildebrand Rides from 2009 until 2019.

According to Carolina Beach Planning Director Jeremy Hardison the landowner indicated, "He will not be returning, but didn’t say who they had" as a new amusement ride operator.

Following a previous announcement that the rides would not be returning for future seasons due to construction of new mixed-use residential and commercial developments on properties that once hosted the rides, as well as COVID-19, many residents and annual visitors expressed a desire for the Town to explore alternative options to bring the amusements back  to the resort town.

The new proposal request Town Council approval to both extend and expand the original Conditional Use Permit issued for the amusement operations in 2009 including expanding the available area for rides.

The request is for a five year extension from 2021 to 2026 with the rides in place for six months out of the year during the summer and shoulder tourism seasons.

Part of the request includes a proposal to use land owned by the Town at 3 Carolina Beach Avenue South and 101 Cape Fear Blvd; the light blue building that was previously home to a beachwear shop and prior to that, the Sterling Craft Mall.

According to the request submitted to the Town, "With the 2009-2019 success of the first decade+ of amusements, arcades, rides and games at the historic boardwalk of Carolina Beach, the Applicant and Land Owner, is requesting an extension and an expansion of the original conditional use permit originally issued on April 14, 2009, modified in July of 2009 and January 15, 2010. The Conditional Use Permit has brought a family-oriented carnival consisting of a series of large mechanical rides, Kid's rides, fun houses and food stands to the historic Carolina Beach Boardwalk since May of 2009. The applicant is requesting an extension of five years 2021 through 2026. The facilities will remain in place for a period of not to exceed six months per year (The Season) and would reserve the right to return in succeeding years with a similar operation."

In 2020, a long-time historic buiding in the heart of Carolina Beach built in the early 1950's was reduced to a pile of rubble. All in an effort to make way for a future mixed-use commercial and residential development at 109 Cape Fear Blvd and adjacent properties between Cape Fear Blvd. and Charlotte Ave. The property most recently was home to Ocean Beachwear, a shop that sold swimwear, t-shirts, and other tourist targeted merchandise.

According to the Federal Point Historic Society, "Many old timers will remember Mrs. High’s Dining Room on Cape Fear Boulevard. It featured home cooking, great seafood of all kinds, steaks, chops, lots of fresh vegetables, and homemade pies.  It was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner."

The current project will encompass more than the land the building currently occupies by incorporating two larger lots to the south that have served as unpaved paid public parking lots leased by the Town of Carolina Beach for many years.

Development of those lots will result in a decrease in the number of paid parking spots available to people visiting the downtown Boardwalk.

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