While once an active and thriving area for entertainment, tourism, and things to do, the circle in Atlantic Beach NC changed significantly in the past 18 years. Today, even in the busy Spring and Summer months, this area stands in stark contrast to the crowds that used to flock to the area at night to partake in dance clubs, listening to multiple live bands, and engaging in other entertainment locally.
In this article, we are interested in learning what local residents and those that visit Atlantic Beach consistently think about the development and growth of this area. Although, it’s important to remember than anyone under 33 years of age in 2019 has no idea what the circle used to be.
We do know that in early 2004, the town put out marketing material outlining their plans to see a very robust multiple story resort built where you now see a concrete foundation. This resort was to be called “The Cove”, and this resort was going to contain a shopping area, restaurants, and other tourism centered retail stores in areas surrounding the high rise center.
While we will not pretend to know what happened to this resort, it’s safe to say that the development is either perpetually stalled or abandoned.
As of this writing on November 17, 2019, the circle has exactly 2 bars, 2 restaurants, 1 wine bar, and 1 beachwear retail store. This area is still somewhat of a beach attraction offering a protected lifeguard area, paid parking, beach volleyball, kids swings, and a boardwalk.
In the 60s, 70s, and 80s, it was common to see upward of 1000 people in the streets in this area as multiple bands played local bars and entertainment centers. Today, you are lucky if you see 20 people in this area after 11 pm.
Now, I am not faulting local politicians and town tourism leaders for the lack of growth and development at the circle because I understand there is a legitimate financial issue that nobody saw coming which put the cove resort on hold, or possibly abandoned. It is quite possible that the mayor, town council, and area tourism leaders want to see this area developed significantly in preparation for the boom in tourism that is expected from the Interstate 42 corridor.
Or, perhaps these town leaders want to see the area filled in with vacation homes and condos. I will not pretend to know the answer.
But, as an entity focused on travel and tourism in Carteret County NC, we are interested in seeing town leaders, local residents, and visitors to the area use the comment form below to discuss and debate what needs to happen, or what will happen with the circle in Atlantic Beach.
Additionally, we encourage readers to share this article on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter so that others can get involved in the conversation.
Should the circle be revitalized and developed in to a robust and active entertainment and visitor center like it was in the 1980s? If not, as a local town official or resident, what would you like to see happen with this area?
Do you support the cove resort being built if it can financially or legally be built, or should town officials abandon it (or litigate) their way in to a new plan?
As a business in Atlantic Beach NC that sits outside of the circle, what would it’s resurgence in visitor traffic mean for your business, or would it have no impact?
What does the future of travel and tourism look like in this town?