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Dubliner Pub & Patio among properties to be purchased for road widening project

Published: Mar. 13, 2019 at 6:02 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The Dubliner Pub & Patio is preparing for what it believes could be its final St. Patrick’s Day celebration before the land is purchased for a road widening project.

The N.C. Department of Transportation is in the design phase of a project that will expand Carolina Beach Road to a four-lane, median-divided roadway between Burnett Boulevard and Shipyard Boulevard in Wilmington in hopes of easing traffic congestion and making the intersection safer.

South Front Street between the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge and Burnett Boulevard will also be widened to a four-lane, median-divided roadway.

By the end of March, NCDOT will officially contact landowners about the need to purchase their property, according to Lauren Haviland, NCDOT communications officer.

At the intersection of Carolina Beach Road, South Front Street, and Burnett Boulevard, seven properties used by businesses will be bought because the land is needed for the project, including sites used by Handee Hugo’s convenience store, Performance Cycles of Wilmington, the Dubliner Pub & Patio, J. T. Lee & Sons Inc., Roy’s Carburetor & Tune-Up Services, and Reynolds Body & Paint Shop.

Rob Potts, manager at the Dubliner Pub & Patio, said the Irish pub is hoping to have its biggest Saint Patrick’s Day celebration Sunday in anticipation of closing down in December after 18 years of business.

“There are a lot of mixed feelings," said Potts. "It’s going to make driving through Wilmington a lot easier, but it sucks that we’re going to be closing after so long. Made great friends with a lot of people in the community, and we can’t move forward until they actually give us an offer.”

When asked if property owners had an option to deny selling their land, Haviland replied, "We are moving forward with this project."

“We spoke with (NCDOT) two weeks ago, and they told us we would hear something right around Patty’s Day," said Potts. "That was about it. They said by the end of the year we won’t be open because we’re a high risk property.”

Generally speaking, the land purchase begins with right of way agents making initial contact, followed by a land appraisal taking 60 to 90 days. Then, NCDOT presents its monetary offer after which negotiations occur and finally a sale is made, according to Haviland.

When businesses are relocated, the process can take more time, said Haviland.

Potts said The Dubliner Pub & Patio is considering opening up somewhere else. He is frustrated with the process, but is grateful for the relationships he has made with customers and fellow employees.

“It would be a lot better if they would actually give us an opportunity to close this properly, to actually say goodbye and have one last hoorah," Potts said. "But when I’m sitting here telling my customers on a daily basis, ‘Hey, it’s going to be two years. It’s going to be a year and a half,’ then come to find it’s going to be six months down the road, I kind of look like a liar and that’s not a good look for me. The way that they’re doing it, it’s just very unprofessional.”

The road expansion plans have been circulating since 2017, including a public meeting.

Construction on Carolina Beach Road is scheduled to begin in 2020, according to information from the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, and construction for South Front Street will begin in 2023.

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