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Atlantic Beach to have runoff election, plans for possible oceanfront hotel


Atlantic Beach will have a runoff election next week to secure the vacant seat on town council that was held by James DeWitt.

The town held a special election last Tuesday, Jan. 17, between candidates John David, Michael Isom and Lenny Evans, with David winning with a total of 32 votes. Isom and Evans both garnered 22 votes.

As a result of no single candidate receiving more than half of the total votes, the town will now have a runoff which will see all three candidates again on the ballot.

The runoff election will be held next Tuesday, Jan. 31, with voting taking place at the Atlantic Beach Community Center, located at 1010 32nd Avenue South, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

The special election was originally held to fill the seat on town council that was left open when former councilmember DeWitt was allegedly killed last Oct. 9 by his son, Matthew, alongside his wife in their home in Columbia. DeWitt had served on the town’s council for less than a year when he was killed.

The term for the open council seat will be until Dec. 31, 2025.

Atlantic Beach officials are also looking at proposed plans to build a new luxury hotel and condominium complex on the town’s oceanfront. Atlantic Beach leaders have discussed plans over the past year for a large-scale revitalization of the town, with the proposed oceanfront hotel being a possible first step towards seeing those plans come to fruition.

As laid out in town planning commission documents, the hotel, tentatively named “The Black Pearl of the Atlantic”, would be more than 20 stories and consist of 168 hotel rooms, along with 36 units for short-term rentals and 24 luxury condos.

According to the application submitted by the developer, Morant Properties, the “Black Pearl Project” is estimated to be cost approximately $80 million to construct. In addition to the room accommodations, the proposed facility will have luxury amenities, including meeting and conference rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, a gift shop and a dedicated space for the town’s museum to house historic artifacts and memorabilia.

The plans are in the pre-application part of the process and will come before Atlantic Beach’s planning commission to discuss at their next meeting to be held on Thursday, Feb. 16. After the project has had its rezoning application submitted, a public hearing will then be held.

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