ATLANTIC BEACH - Movement at the large hotel in Atlantic Beach is a sign of good things to come. The former Sheraton Hotel has been closed since Hurricane Irene in 2011.
Atlantic Beach Mayor Trace Cooper says the hotel is more than a beach getaway.
"It's not just the hotel rooms. The conference space where they host conventions, weddings and events like Marine Corps Ball that brings a lot of people to town for things other than staying in the hotel," said Mayor Cooper.
Crews are working on the exterior of the building. The roof is next. Inside, plans are in place to completely renovate the restaurant and bar. Atlantic Beach businesses rely on the hotel to meet their needs during the off-season.
"If we have a 300 person convention here in the middle of the week in February, 300 people in July is not that much to us, but in February, it's a big deal," said Mayor Cooper.
There will be a lot of changes to the hotel, but some things will remain the same. The beach side bar and grill will stay as it is. The pier will be repaired, however at this time it is not expected to be extended.
The lack of action over the past year and a half took its toll on businesses close to the hotel. Four businesses are now closed because of the lack of guests in the nine-story building.
"There's an economic impact that's felt through the town and county, but this immediate area is one of the hardest hit and will see the most benefit from the hotel being open," said Mayor Cooper.
The hotel targets June 1st as the reopening date.
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