Property Next To Johnny Mercer's On Market

Aug 9, 2012

Story by: Wayne Faulkner, posted on

A prominent piece of Wrightsville Beach property is back on the market.

The site, between Seagull and Salisbury streets, is directly west of and adjacent to Johnnie Mercer’s Fishing Pier and was slated as far back as 2006 for a development of condominiums and retail called The Helm.

It eventually was taken back by lender Cooperative Bank and now, after several years, has been listed by Cape Fear Commercial in Wilmington.

No price has been set, said Brian Eckel, who with Hank Miller and Paul Loukas have listed the property.

In August 2005, the property sold to W. Ward Manning Jr. for $12.225 million, Eckel said. The property comprised the site of the Ocean View Motel, which was demolished, and several other smaller parcels.

The Helm was proposed in 2006 by Manning, but he was killed in a plane crash near Charlotte in 2008 and the Manning Companies dropped out of the development, said Wrightsville Beach Town Manager Bob Simpson.

Then other investors expressed interest, but that group was dissolved and the property went into receivership, he said.

First Bank, which took over the failed Cooperative Bank, owns the property now.

“After sitting dormant, in 2011 we had another group emerge and indicate … a relatively strong interest to develop for mixed-use,” Simpson said. “They were going to call it ‘The Deck,’ but they couldn’t get the capital to make it happen.”

The conditional-use permit for The Helm is still valid, said Tony Wilson, the town’s planning and parks director.

The approved plan calls for 23 condos, three commercial units, two levels of parking and a pool, Eckel said.

“I don’t know of any kind of deal or plan that are imminent” on the property, Mayor David Cignotti said Thursday.

The site’s development is especially important to Wrightsville Beach because there are only a handful of places for mixed use or retail on the island, Cignotti said. The two largest and most prominent are the The Helm property and the site of the former Middle of the Island restaurant. But plans for the latter never got off the ground, he said.

“Our board decided we were open to mixed-use,” Cignotti said this week. It was the town’s goal “to try to encourage having a healthy retail base by giving (the developers) an incentive to have residential as well.”

View the original story at Star News.