Carolina Beach to get new arcade

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An aerial view of the site of Poppy's Place arcade, outlined in yellow, from the Town of Carolina Beach.
An aerial view of the site of Poppy’s Place arcade, outlined in yellow, from the Town of Carolina Beach.

Over a year after a fire destroyed the arcade on Carolina Beach’s boardwalk, the town is getting a new indoor family entertainment center.

Town council approved a conditional use permit for an arcade to be built at 810 N. Lake Park Blvd., the former home of Spectrum Paint store. An adjacent property located at 112 Winner Ave., will be used for parking for the arcade.

The owners of both properties, James and Jennifer Kitts, who own Carolina Beach Realty, want to provide a year-round place for young people on Pleasure Island to enjoy.

“We are seeking a family-filled atmosphere with a local feel,” Jennifer Kitts said in her application for the permit. “[It will have] simple arcade and redemption-style games with tickets to be turned in for small prizes.”

The 2,584 square foot arcade would be called “Poppy’s Place” and would be housed in the main building on the property facing North Lake Park Boulevard. A smaller building behind it will be used for storage, and a single-family home on the Winner Avenue property will continue to be rented out as a residence. The town requires 14 on-site spaces, with nine at the main site and five on the adjacent lot.

A September 2014 fire destroyed the Carolina Beach arcade. (File photo)
A September 2014 fire destroyed the Carolina Beach arcade. (File photo)

“There will be a walkway interconnecting from the parking lot to the [arcade],” said Carolina Beach Senior Planner Jeremy Hardison, who also noted that the property owners would have to keep three other parking spots specifically for the home’s residents.

Another issue the town is requiring the property owners to remedy is the main building’s connection to town utilities.

“Since the building was built in 1974, it was not hooked up to sewer at that time, and it’s still not hooked up to sewer,” Hardison said. “So one of the requirements is hooking it up and running a line to Winner Avenue, [which is] the sewer line it will need to be tied into.”

The Kitts will also have to put in sidewalks along their portion of North Lake Park Boulevard, which will eventually connect to walkways that will be placed in front of the Harris Teeter project just to the north of the arcade site. In addition to promoting better connectivity and access for pedestrians, the town and property owners agree it will improve safety. One local mom voiced concern about the location on such a busy street.

“I’m excited for the arcade,” said Karen Graybush, the mom of three children aged 14, 13 and 11. “[But] there’s a lot of traffic in that area … It just seems like not necessarily the safest area for kids to cross or ride their bikes to get to, and I was just wondering if that’s been thought of or addressed.”

“We are going to put in sidewalks that aren’t currently there,” Jennifer Kitts replied. “And we are happy to do that.”

Ned Barnes, an attorney representing the applicants, reminded the council and the public that they wouldn’t have to worry about drunk drivers speeding out of the parking lots.

“It’s strictly family entertainment,” Barnes said. “There’s no alcohol being served. It’s just games and refreshments.”

The town’s Planning and Zoning Committee approved it at their last meeting, and town council members approved it by a unanimous 5 – 0 vote last week.

“We could use places for the young folks,” Mayor Dan Wilcox said. “Thank you.”

A major fire destroyed the town’s old arcade in the fall of 2014. The town has been rebuilding that property near the Harper Avenue beach access and is looking to reopen it in the near future.