ATLANTIC BEACH, CARTERET COUNTY -

Construction began in late February in Atlantic Beach on The Grove project near The Circle.

The Circle has been empty for years and construction in the area held back due to economic distress. Developer Fred Bunn said a sewage treatment plant going up by the circle will support development in the years to come.

"It's a [multipurpose] project with lots of variety planned," Bunn said. "Normally it would be a five to six year project.It's hard to tell today. We're just going to take it step by step and build it piece by piece."

Over the years, The Circle has been home to a dance hall, a casino, and a Ferris Wheel. People who have lived nearby to see it all say they're ready for something to be in the circle again.

"All that stuff down there is gone. Everything in there is new including the crabs claw," Jim Willis said.

Willis has lived in Atlantic Beach since 1934. His parents owned the Atlantic Beach Hotel during the time of his birth.

Willis accounted The Circles name due to the difficulty people find parking.

"You go round and round looking for a space," Willis said. "Finally, you'd probably get one."

After the sewage treatment plant is completed, Bunn said the next thing in line for development are single family homes. Full development of the area could take a decade.