Wrightsville Beach approves parking lot at Middle of Island building site


The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen approved a permit that would result in the demolition of the building that once housed one of Wrightsville Beach’s most famous restaurant, but has been vacant for more than a decade.

After postponing a decision during the Nov. 9 meeting, the board voted unanimously on Thursday, Dec. 14 to approve a conditional use permit and ordinance change that would allow the owners of Poe’s Tavern at 212 Causeway Drive to purchase the Middle of the Island building, located at 216 Causeway Drive, and demolish it for a parking lot for the restaurant.  

When completed, the Poe’s Tavern would have 57 parking spaces on site.

The ownership of Poe’s Tavern plans to buy the the familiar orange-roofed building if they receive approval to turn it into a parking lot, said attorney Faison Gibson Sutton, who told the board she represented both the ownership of Poe’s Tavern and the MOI building.

The Middle of the Island restaurant operated for nearly 40 years in Wrightsville Beach, closing in 2007 as owners transitioned the business to catering. However, the building has been vacant since, with the building’s owner last proposing renovations in 2015 that were never completed.

One change in the agreement is that it won’t require the two lots to be joined, meaning that the owners have the option to sell or re-purpose the lot in the future. In addition to parking, the conditional use permit also directs the owners to provide bicycle racks and screen the restaurant’s dumpster from view.

Sutton described the parking lot as “nicely landscaped, pervious surface with an appropriate buffer.” She added that the parking lot would benefit the surrounding businesses by “cutting down on competition for limited parking” on Causeway Drive.

Confusion over parking requirements delayed the permit approval during the Nov. 9 meeting, with Sutton raising objections of how Poe’s Taverns parking exemption would be handled should the restaurant decide to sell or re-purpose the parking lot. The permit approved by the board on Dec. 14 allows for the restaurant to revert back to the original parking exemption should the parking use change.

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