The Atlantic Beach Town Council could soon approve a developer’s plan to redevelop the long-closed Hi-Lites clothing store on West Fort Macon Road into more than 6,000 square feet of retail space. (Carteret County GIS photo)

ATLANTIC BEACH — It looks like it could be a big year for major development projects in Atlantic Beach.

A plan for redevelopment of the hold Hi-Lites property at 109 and 115 West Fort Macon Road (Highway 58) is winding its way through the development process – with possible town council approval as early late January or February – and construction of residential units could begin this spring on the old Showboat Motel property on the Atlantic Beach Causeway.

Hi-Lites, a clothing store, closed after roof damage during Hurricane Florence in September 2018, and the property is owned by AB Sandals Ventures. The two lots, one .32 of an acre and the other .24 of an acre, were sold to the LLC in May 2022 for $1.27 million. The LLC has a Dallas mailing address. 

Mayor Trace Cooper said Thursday town officials hope something very nice will be built there, as it is a “key parcel” near the town’s main intersection, Highway 58 and the Atlantic Beach Causeway.

So far, all officials know is that according to the plan submitted, it is to be a 6,156-square-foot retail space with a 1,000-square-foot storage mezzanine, associated parking, landscaping and a sidewalk along West Fort Macon Road.

“My hope is that it will be (space for) the kinds of things we’ve seen recently in Atlantic Beach, not something like Hi-Lites, but locally owned cool little boutique shops,” the mayor said.

As for the old Showboat Motel property, it’s supposed to be eight buildings with two residential units in each, according to the plan approved by the town.

Mayor Cooper said the developer is going through the process necessary to obtain building permits.

“They’re hoping construction can begin in the spring of this year,” the mayor said.

It’s also a key property in town, with water frontage and frontage on the causeway, one of the entrances to town.

The Showboat Motel was built in the 1960s and was popular with visitors for a long time but eventually fell into disrepair and went vacant.

Showboat Investments LLC, owners of the property, began demolishing the building in July 2021 after years of complaints about the building’s condition.

In addition to the residences, the plan calls for landscaping, a service road and a section of sidewalk along the causeway side of the property.

Mayor Cooper said he’s excited to see the change in store on the property, that the plan is for units to be similar to those at Windfare Townhouses at the end of Old Causeway Road.

In addition, work could begin this winter on the redevelopment of the oceanfront boardwalk in the Circle Development District.

The council in May voted unanimously to pick KUTONOTUK of Charlottesville, Va. to design the new boardwalk.

The company plans a boardwalk design incorporating features of the existing boardwalk, such as the existing seawall and the boardwalk’s concrete foundation.

It includes a central public park, labeled the Alfred B. Cooper Park in the May presentation, with a grove of live oak trees, as well as a pavilion structure with an upper deck for its roof.

On the west end of the boardwalk, the firm proposes building a new bathhouse with parking, a splash pad, a dune playground area and other features. The east end would include physical fitness features.


Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow-on Twitter @brichccnt.

(4) comments


Am I imagining things or do the Coopers own Atlantic Beach? A Me. Copper owns the Ocean Motel and trailer area that are being torn down for mini mansions for the Northerners. He is also Gov. Cooper's cousin. Now we find out the Mayor is also a Cooper and some area is being dedicated to a Cooper. My oh my, those pockets sure are deep.


You are correct...the Coopers have owned AB for a long time. They also own a nice restaurant in AB and much land besides the motel and pier.


Those connections that the monied have, which is how they acquire, purchase and sell assets, extend throughout the county. The rezoning of the156 acre development on Rte. 58 also had politics written all over it - only Republicans that time.


2nd paragraph, 1st sentence change "hold" to "old".

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