ATLANTIC BEACH - Plans are announced for a park and hotel in Atlantic Beach.
The old Sheraton Hotel is reopening June 1st as a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, according to The Newport Group, the hotel's new owners. The Newport Group bought the hotel for $4.56 million in December. The old Sheraton Hotel closed in 2012 after it was damaged by Hurricane Irene.
Scott Rice, owner of Surfari Restaurant and Bar, located across the street from the hotel, said he hopes the new hotel will have a positive impact on the local economy. The restaurant had to close in the past, but is reopening sometime in the next month, which is just before the DoubleTree's opening date.
"It will be a good period for us to have an opening and get things together so we can handle the impact it will have on us, which we're very hopeful will be a very positive one," Rice said.
The hotel is currently undergoing a $5 million renovation. The company expects to start accepting applications May 1st, and open the doors to guests by June 1st.
The town of Atlantic Beach is also expecting to get construction underway for the first phase of a park expansion. The expansion includes turning the parking lot to grass and adding a splash water pad water park element for kids. Future plans also show new trails and a skate park for the area.
"We used to years ago have bumper boats and putt-putt golf and water slides and over the years those disappeared and they haven't come back," Trace Cooper, mayor of Atlantic Beach, said. "We decided that we need to do something about that."
The construction for the first phase of the expansion is expected to begin this summer.