Welcome Inn given go ahead to reopen in Carolina Beach

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The Welcome Inn in Carolina Beach. Photo by Hannah Leyva.
The Welcome Inn in Carolina Beach. Photo by Hannah Leyva.

One of the oldest existing buildings in Carolina Beach will be turned into a hotel once again.

On Tuesday, the Carolina Beach Town Council (minus Mayor Dan Wilcox, who was not present) unanimously approved a conditional use permit applied for by the owners of the Welcome Inn, located at 205 N. Lake Park Blvd., as well as an adjacent single-family residence.

The 1930s building in the town’s central business district is a former hotel that was turned into apartments before closing a few years ago due to deteriorating conditions as a result of water damage from utilities issues. The longtime owners of the property are now ready to reopen the place in its original capacity.

“This is an existing property that they’re wanting to restore,” said Jeremy Hardison, the town’s senior planner. “The property has been vacant for some time … there are significant upgrades that need to be done.”

Though the property previously functioned as a hotel, it never held a conditional use permit for that use as they did not exist when the Welcome Inn was built. Due to the property being vacant for more than 180 days, town code requires a new permit to be applied for. It was presented before the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission last month and was also passed unanimously.

In addition to putting in new utilities and renovating the two-story structure, Hardison said a bathroom will be installed in each of the 11 planned guest rooms. Previously, occupants would have to use a shared restroom on each floor. A wheelchair-accessible ramp will also be installed in order to bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Town code requires one parking spot per room, but according to Hardison, the Welcome Inn will provide 13 spaces, including a handicap one, in a vacant lot located between the two buildings listed in the permit. The parking lot will be a one way in, one way out area, with the entrance around the corner on Harper Avenue and the exit onto Lake Park Boulevard. The five-foot sidewalk currently in place in front of the property will remain, and cut throughs will be constructed for the lot. The property owners will also be required to plant some trees along the street.

Contractor Matthew Fox, who represented the applicant at Tuesday night’s public hearing, said he and his team are ready and excited to begin the task of restoring the nearly 80-year-old building.

“I’m looking forward to renovating this project and bringing back a piece of history to Carolina Beach with all the upgrades … while keeping the charm of the 1930s beach project,” Fox said, assuring town officials that everything would be brought back up to code.

Mayor Pro-tem LeAnn Pierce said the feeling was mutual.

“We’re looking forward to getting that property up and running,” Pierce said.

No timetable has been set for work on the property.

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