From his office in Surf City’s municipal complex, Town Manager Kyle Breuer can see proof that commercial development is on the rise in and around the Pender County coastal town.
“As we speak, I look out of my window and they are unloading materials for a new PetSmart directly in front of Town Hall, and then on the corner in front of Publix, you’ve got a brand new car wash going in,” Breuer said in late June. “And then across the street we’ve got a new candy store that’s supposed to be built.”
Beyond the nearby Walmart are excavators working on a site where apartments will be built.
“I think Surf City certainly serves as a commercial hub, and what I believe what we are seeing is that more and more, there’s really no shoulder season or offseason for people here in Surf City,” he said. “It’s more of a year-round population, and people demand those goods and services like these commercial businesses are able to provide.”
Surf City has about 3,800 year-round residents, which grows to 30,000 in the summer months. The town, which is located in both Pender and Onslow counties and has mainland and Topsail Island portions, was founded in 1949. Until a new bridge opened in December 2018, the town’s island area was accessible via a 1950s swing bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway.
Surf City draws people wanting to use goods and services not only from Topsail Island but also from the Onslow County towns of Sneads Ferry and Holly Ridge, according to the town manager.
In another example of commercial development, a luxury hotel opened in the Topsail Island portion of Surf City during Memorial Day weekend this May.
Saltwater Suites at 605 N. Topsail Drive is a 48-room, 84-bed condo-style resort “offering five-star hospitality accommodations,” according to a news release.
“We are extremely proud of what our team has accomplished over the past 15 months of construction,” said Richard Stroupe, developer of Saltwater Suites, in the release. “The Topsail Island community has been nothing but supportive. We’re grateful for the opportunity to introduce Saltwater Suites to them.”
According to the release, Stroupe is a local entrepreneur and owner of Surf City’s Loggerhead Inn and Suites.
“The 2020 renovation of the boutique motel inspired Stroupe to design and develop Saltwater Suites, a new beachside suites concept,” the release stated.
When it comes to the kind of businesses and development residents want, a pending update could help provide direction.
“We’re working with the Cape Fear Council of Governments to do a full update of the land use plan, which was most recently adopted in 2005,” Breuer said. “And a lot of the mainland growth and development really wasn’t here back then. So, it was an opportunity for us to really take a look at what, in the next 20 and 30 years, Surf City could look like.”