A former hotel in the heart of Carolina Beach’s central business district could once again be opened in that capacity.
The Welcome Inn, located at 205 N. Lake Park Blvd., has stood in that location since the 1930s and is one of the oldest buildings in Carolina Beach. Though it once provided lodging for visitors to the beach town, most recently it served more permanent residents by leasing out 14 rooms and apartments until it closed a few years ago.
“Utilities has a lot to do with why they closed down,” the town’s planning director Ed Parvin told the Planning and Zoning Commission last week. “My understanding is that three or four years ago, they had some failure in their utilities and they had quite a bit of water damage due to some of those failures in the structure.”
Now, the owners are applying for a conditional use permit to reopen the business as an 11-room (including a manager’s room) hotel. Since the hotel was in operation for decades, long before conditional use permits existed, they never held such a permit, which led to their need to apply for one. Carolina Beach town code requires that any business closed for more than 180 days must come back into compliance before they can reopen.
A proposed site plan for the Welcome Inn shows six guest rooms on the second floor and the rest on the first floor, including a suite and a handicap-accessible room. The first floor will also have the manager’s room and a kitchen that, according to the town’s senior planner Jeremy Hardison, will not be communal and will be for the manager’s use only. A large gathering room for all the guests will be located on the first floor near the front entrance.
Upgrades will include new utilities and exterior work such as signs and lighting. Inside, a bathroom will be built into every individual room, according to Hardison.
The owners also have a single-family, one-story home located at 209 N. Lake Park Blvd., next to the Welcome Inn. They intend to keep the house at its current use, as the owner’s son stays there when he comes to town every few weeks. That home was also built around the same time as the inn. A vacant lot on the other side of the house will be used as a parking lot to provide the required 11 off-street spaces (one for each room) for the hotel.
According to Matthew Fox, who represents the applicant, the owners are working with the historical commission to document the buildings’ stories as well as possibly get a placard or other designation for the site. Some items in the building, such as existing doors and hardware, will be reused or repurposed as much as possible. Fox estimates renovations will take about five months once the application is approved, with a target opening date sometime in spring 2017.
“We’re just looking forward to being able to restore this property and keep the history of it,” said Matthew Fox, who represents the applicant. “We’re doing everything to bring it fully up to code … making sure we’re going above and beyond to make it safe and be an asset and really preserve some of the old history of the beach community.”
The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the application at their meeting last week, and it will now go before the Carolina Beach Town Council. A public hearing on the item has been set for their July 12 meeting, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers in Town Hall.