For nearly a year, residents and visitors driving along NC Highway 12 in the tri-villages have looked outside their vehicle window and wondered, “What the heck is that giant building in Rodanthe going to be?”
At first, many folks thought it was going to be another beach souvenir store – albeit a huge one. And then rumors and theories started to churn that it could be a new resort complex, a mini-hotel, or even a terribly impractical parking garage.
And when a massive, geometric shape began to take form on the corner of the building, travelers were even more confused. Is that a rock climbing wall? Did someone read the blueprints incorrectly? Or is this just an oddly contemporary building designed by a modern artist who appreciates massive corner accents?
But just a couple weeks ago, a recent installation of a sign provided the answer curious passer-bys have been searching for – this large structure is the home of the new “Highway 12 Amusements.”
David Peres, owner of the new Highway 12 Amusements and also the owner of Destination Fun in Kill Devil Hills, hopes the new amusement center will be a draw for visitors and locals alike, as it will be one of a kind on Hatteras Island.
“I used to own retail shops, and I hated it, so I experimented [by opening] Destination Fun. Then I thought, ‘let’s do something similar here,’” says Peres.
The 13,000 square foot structure will certainly be an entertainment complex that’s unparalleled on the island.
The resulting center will have a four lanes of bowling, an arcade, an indoor rope climbing course, and an 18-hole mini golf course that’s located on the edge of the Pamlico Sound. A movie-house style Plexiglas entrance will allow visitors to pick up tickets for activities, and the site will also feature concessions and a ticket redemption center.
But perhaps the most intricate facet of the facilities is the two-story laser tag arena, which is just starting to take shape. “The theme is ‘urban warfare,” says Peres, indicating the massive tank and overhead airplane that is currently being completed, “and it will be two levels, with an area for parents to look on.”
In addition, the center will indeed have a 45 ft. tall rock climbing wall on the outside of the building – one of the most visible components of the site so far – which will be lighted at night with a special illumination system that changes colors.
Eventually, a zip line will be added to the interior of the building, which will take full advantage of the 30 ft. tall ceilings, but with a looming summer season, the zip line may have to wait for now.
“We started construction in June of last year, and if we can be open by June 15, I will be happy,” says Peres.
“Before we open, I want to invite all the local kids to come in and play laser tag for free,” he adds. “That will be our PR.”
Peres also has a building in Avon which may be transformed into a similar activity center. “It’s a retail store now, but I would like to convert it to something else,” he says. The paperwork is in place to move forward, as the Dare County Board of Commissioners approved a text amendment adding “indoor recreational” facilities such as arcades or bowling alleys as permitted uses to the Avon-Buxton C2 zoning designation at a December 2016 meeting.
For now, however, Peres hopes the array of activities at the new Highway 12 Amusements will appeal to both island locals and visitors. “We made activities for rainy days, and activities for sunny days,” says Peres. “I hope [people will love it] – we shall see.”