Showboat Motel owners eye amendment to allow property to be developed into town homes

The Showboat Motel sits closed on the Atlantic Beach Causeway Wednesday, as it has for years. The owners are seeking the means to redevelop the property for residential use. (Mike Shutak photo)

ATLANTIC BEACH — Town planners recommend the Atlantic Beach Town Council approve an ordinance amendment to allow the redevelopment of the iconic Showboat Motel property on the Atlantic Beach Causeway, where owners are eyeing constructing townhouses.

The town planning board met for its regular meeting Tuesday in the town hall meeting room on West Fort Macon Road and online via Zoom. During the meeting, the board unanimously recommended the council grant final approval to a proposed Unified Development Ordinance amendment to side setbacks in the COR (commercial corridor) district.

Town planning and zoning director Michelle Eitner said Showboat Investments LLC proposed the amendment as part of plans to demolish the old motel and redevelop the lot.

The recommendation now goes to the council at its next regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, April 26.

Showboat Investments LLC members Scott McLaughlin and David Hicks were present at Tuesday’s board meeting. Mr. McLaughlin said they think their proposed amendment would be beneficial to more than just the Showboat property.

“We think this particular change would be good for the entire corridor,” he said. “There’s a lot of issues on the causeway. We’re not saying this solves all of them, but it will open up architectural options.”

Mr. Hicks told the News-Times Thursday he and Mr. McLaughlin plan to build townhouses on the lot once the motel is demolished.

“The amendment will allow us to have a prettier product,” Mr. Hicks said. “The causeway is the entrance to town, once we get approval by the council, we’re ready to roll.”

The existing ordinance requires 10-foot side setbacks from residential property in the COR district. The amendment would add a provision that allows single-family houses and duplexes 5-foot side setbacks.  

Ms. Eitner said the amendment doesn’t change the limits on lot sizes or building square footage.

“This is a primarily commercial and mixed-use district,” she said.

Town officials have supported redeveloping the Showboat Motel property for years. The motel has been closed down for a long time, and at public meetings councilmen have referred to it as an “eyesore.”

Ms. Eitner said Wednesday there have been plans to revamp the lot since 2006. At the time, the owners submitted a site plan to replace the motel with duplexes, but due to the economic recession the plans were shelved.

Showboat Investments LLC purchased the property for $2.25 million in 2019.

Ms. Eitner said the partners had been speaking with staff prior to closing on the property about pursuing the duplex development plan again.

In other news at Tuesday’s meeting, planners unanimously recommended to the council disapprove a proposed 2-foot freeboard requirement for town.

Freeboard is height above an area’s base flood elevation to which new development or significantly redeveloped structures would have to be built. The town has been considering adopting the requirement to maintain the existing rating in the state’s flood insurance rating program. The higher a town’s rating, the larger a discount insurance holders receive. An initial 1-foot freeboard was proposed, which the planning board later upped to 2 feet to match other Bogue Banks municipalities.

The town council received this proposal at its regular meeting March 22, but sent it back to the planning board due to concerns about the requirements it would create for commercial construction to be handicap accessible and for residential property owners who want to improve their homes.

After discussion, planners chose to recommend disapproving the proposed freeboard in anticipation of new state flood zone maps. Ms. Eitner said Wednesday a conference with the state flood plain manager is scheduled for this week.


Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

(1) comment

David Collins

Yup , an eyesore for sure . What is in the works could be the same . More people , traffic and poop . Pick your poison .

Welcome to the discussion.

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