Event center in the works in Emerald Isle

EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WNCT)–As the tourism season ramps up with the warmer weather, coastal communities are reaping the benefits.

But some local towns are already thinking about the offseason and how to keep the tourists coming.

Emerald Isle is hoping to turn the abandoned go-kart and bumper boat facility located on Islander Driver into a meeting and events center.

The lot’s been vacant for over a decade.

The town hopes to purchase the 1.8-acre parcel in the coming month.

“We are doing that really to boost tourism visitation during the fall, winter and spring months,” Frank Rush, town manager, said.

Emerald Isle’s population increases from four thousand folks during the offseason, to about 40,000 during the summer months.

“In Western Carteret County, there’s really a void,” Rush said. “There’s not a facility that can accommodate large groups. We want to have this facility available for perhaps weddings, family reunions, and special public events.”

Talk of the event center is good news for businesses like K9’s and Coffee.

Owner Wendy Megyese says she believes the event center will help keep business up year round.

“I feel that it will bring growth and visitors, the kind that we want, which will help to sustain the businesses during the slow season,” Megyese said.

The town estimates a cost to purchase and clear the land of about $700,000.

Rush says the center would be a catalyst for future redevelopment along Islander Drive.

“It’s an opportunity we hope to revitalize the entire Islander Drive area, which just doesn’t look as nice as we all would like,” he said.

The town says the facility would include both public and private components, including an enhanced public beach access, the event center, and private commercial investments.

The town will request $450,000 in economic development funding from Carteret County during Monday’s Board of Commissioner’s meeting.

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