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Carolina Coastal Park Business Thriving

After years in Tucson, Ariz., Gunilla Marks decided to buy an RV and drive across the country to be closer to family.

She ended up at the Ocean Aire Travel Park near Holden Beach, N.C., this summer, where she now lives part time, the Wilmington Star-News reported.

She was lucky to find a spot.

Campgrounds are becoming more and more popular in Brunswick County, located in the southeast corner of the state along the Atlantic Ocean, as a vacation getaway or second home, particularly as the economy has gone sour.

To catch up with demand, two projects are now in the works that will add more camping spaces in the county.

"A lot of people are finding peace and quiet out here," Marks said. "It's just a good place to go and forget the world – but not completely."

Just a few years ago, many campgrounds in Brunswick County and around the state were closing as escalating property values brought developers and deals too good to pass up.

In 2005 alone, two campgrounds near Oak Island closed their doors to make way for single-family homes and condos.

At the time, some campsites were selling for more than $12 million, according to a state campgrounds association.

That pressure has largely gone away as developments have been put on hold.

"The companies that had wanted to buy aren't doing anything anymore," said Ruth Edge, who owns Captain Andy's Campground along with her husband in Calabash.

There are now between 30 and 50 campgrounds in the county, planner Mark Pages said. Some are small operations of about 10 spots, while Ocean Aire is among the largest with 253 spaces.

And it will soon be growing. The travel park has begun work to add between 70 and 80 spots, as well as a new pool and bathhouse.

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