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REGIONALREPORT Eastern

Exclusively oceanfront

Richard Neal was perusing auction properties on a federal government website when a listing for an abandoned Coast Guard lighthouse caught his eye. “I called my wife and told her I’d found her 25th-anniversary present.” Neal, a software salesman from Mint Hill, eventually bought Frying Pan Shoals Light Tower for $85,000 and has invested roughly $25,000 to turn it into a maritime bed-and-breakfast.

Built in 1966, the modified oil-drilling platform stands in about 50 feet of water 85 feet above the Atlantic 30 miles east of Southport on the southern edge of Frying Pan Shoals, shifting sandbars that have claimed many a passing ship. The station was manned until the light was automated in 1979. The government deactivated it in 2003, and Neal bought the tower about two years ago after two higher bidders failed to find financing. The 5,000 square feet of living space includes eight bedrooms, each with twin beds. The B&B opened in May. Two-night stays run $300, not including the cost of getting there. (There’s a helipad if you want to arrive in style.)

Neal, 51, hopes it will become a popular spot for divers and fishermen, but profit wasn’t his motivation for this manifestation of a self-described midlife crisis. “Saving it,” he says, “was just something I thought needed to be done.”

 

 Briefs

AURORAPCS Phosphate Co.’s Potash Corp.-Aurora plant laid off 150 workers, about 15% of its local workforce, to cut costs and remain competitive in phosphate production. The company makes fertilizer by producing three primary crop nutrients: potash, phosphate and nitrogen.

GREENVILLE Vidant Health named David Herman CEO, effective July 1. Herman was the health system’s president and chief operating officer and will replace Dave McRae, who will assume an emeritus role.

ROCKY POINTWarner Bros. Television will film its NBC sci-fi series, Revolution, here at the shuttered Coty plant. Production for the show’s fall debut is expected to employ 125 workers full time, plus hundreds of extras part time. Its executive producers include J.J. Abrams, creator of Lost.

WILMINGTON — Contract-research organization Inclinix will merge with Winston-Salem-based PMG Research. The deal comes after Charlotte-based private-equity group Frontier Capital made an undisclosed investment in Inclinix. The combined company will be based in Wilmington but maintain two divisions and have more than 275 employees. Inclinix specializes in enrolling patients in clinical trials, while PMG Research helps pharmaceutical companies and CROs conduct research studies at a network of sites in the Southeast.

WILMINGTON — Contract-research organization Pharmaceutical Product Development named Pfizer executive David Simmons chairman and CEO. He replaces Raymond Hill, who left in December after New York City-based asset manager The Carlyle Group and San Francisco-based private-equity group Hellman & Friedman purchased the company for $3.9 billion and took it private.