BREAKING: Developer seeks approval for housing development at Johnnie Mercer’s Pier lot

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After a change in the property’s ownership, developers are asking Wrightsville Beach to approve a new project that would bring residential housing units to the vacant lot by Johnnie Mercer’s Pier.

The proposed project, conceptually titled “Atlantic View,” would bring 11 duplexes to the property under a new zoning category called “group housing” that will be reviewed by the Wrightsville Beach Planning Board on Tuesday, Aug. 1. The project was submitted by a development group called 19 E. Salisbury Street, LLC, with town documents noting that Wilmington-area homebuilder D. Logan would represent the project.

The new proposal comes amid 10 years of vacancy at the property, which included proposals to raise the building height limit that were rejected by the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen. The “Atlantic View” project meets the town’s 40-foot building height limit and comes after some change in ownership of the property.

The town’s planning staff recommends approving the project, arguing that after 10 years of vacancy, the project may be the “highest and best use of this property.”

The staff said the duplex unit will have less impact on the existing neighborhood that the approved mixed use project for that property, noting that it is next to existing residential duplexes and commercial properties.

The site had originally been designated Tom Kievit of Coastal N.C. Real Estate LLC for a mixed-use development known as “The Helm,” which would have included shops and residential units. However, developers later wanted the town to approve a similar project that would have exceeded the height limit, arguing it was needed due to flood regulations which required higher buildings, a proposal that was ultimately rejected by the board of aldermen in October 2016.

Following that, Coastal N.C. Real Estate LLC sold its ownership stake to 19 E Salisbury LLC for $2.7 million, according to county records, which reflect a declining value of the property. It was purchased in August 2005 by Seascape @ Wrightsville Beach LLC for $8 million and later sold to First Troy Spe LLC in July 2010 for $4.5 million, before ownership was transferred to Coastal N.C. Real Estate LLC.

In the documents filed with the town, the “group housing” will create common areas that are maintained by the corporate homeowner. These housing units would only be allowed in C-2 zoning, which in Wrightsville Beach is restricted to the areas are Johnnie Mercer’s Pier and Crystal Pier.

The project will require both a “text amendment,” which changes town ordinances, to allow for the group housing to be allowed in the C-2 zoning district. Once passed, the project would need to be granted a conditional use permit to meet specific requirements. Both measures will be reviewed by the Wrightsville Beach Planning Board on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

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