Coast Guard housing has a new owner
BY CATHERINE KOZAK
housing units at former Coast Guard Group Cape Hatteras in Buxton have
been sold to a Virginia Beach family-owned partnership that plans to
fix them and rent them.
After a nearly two-month Government
Services Administration online auction, a $2,625,000 bid was accepted
on Dec. 20 from Lee Pontes of Virginia Beach, manager of the
acquisition group Sylakama, LLC., according to Kristine Carson, point
of contact at GSA’s Real Property Utilization and Disposal Office.
is like a dream. It’s very exciting for us,” company spokesman Jim
Pereira said in a telephone interview. “We really intend to do this
The buyers plan to offer seasonal and year-round rentals, he said.
by the ocean on 7.96 acres, the 45-unit complex consists of 23 separate
buildings: 24 two-bedroom, 14 three-bedroom and seven four-bedroom
units, most with carports, screened porches, and decks.
said in an e-mail that more than 100 potential purchasers, some from as
far as Texas and California, contacted GSA about the property, marketed
as “Cottages at the Cape.” She said the sale is expected to close
within 60 days.
“We are excited about the buyer’s plans for the
property,” she wrote, “and the positive impact its sale and
redevelopment will bring to the community.”
Opening bids started at $2.5 million. There were a total of two bids
made, including the winning offer.
the desirable oceanside location, the sale was complicated by zoning
issues, moisture damage to the units, and the lack of wastewater
treatment at the site. Built in the 1990s for about $8.5 million, the
units have been empty since 2005, when the Coast Guard base was
relocated to Fort Macon.
Shortly before the Coast Guard left,
the housing complex had been subject to storm-driven ocean overwash
from the nearby beach, which had lost its dune. The wastewater
treatment facility was damaged, and it was relocated away from the
beach in a $100,000 move. Despite that, the system was dysfunctional
and was later dismantled and removed.
The duneline has been restored, but the beach remains vulnerable to
flooding at the site after Hurricane Irene in August was caused by
heavy rain, and the area’s high water table made drainage
said that the owners are confident that a wastewater treatment system
can be designed within required specifications, and that the county
will be amenable to helping them find a solution to the zoning issue.
The GSA bid, he said, did not include any conditions based on the
ability to meet zoning or permit requirements.
County Manager Bobby Outten said that when the natural historic
district zoning --- which restricts multifamily and group housing ---
was put in place, the housing complex was still owned by the Coast
Guard. Since the federal government is exempted from county zoning
regulations, the complex was considered a legal non-conforming use.
the ordinance, Outten said, the grandfathered use expired because the
property was vacant for so long. In order to now use the property, the
new private owners must either seek an amendment to the ordinance, or
request that the site be rezoned.
Outten said that the county
Board of Commissioners has not discussed the current issue, but he does
not think reasonable proposals would be discouraged.
“I would guess the board would want to allow some use of those
buildings,” he said.
only would the county benefit by having the neglected site fixed up, he
said, it would also mean more revenue for the county.
“It puts that on the tax rolls,” he said, “and that is good.”
said that the owners are working on a package to present to the Dare
County Planning Board, tentatively on Jan. 9. But he said it is too
soon to know any specifics of the proposal. One of the first things the
owners want to do is to weatherize the property to protect it from
further moisture damage.
“All I can say is, on behalf of the
group, we look forward to working with Dare County on coming up with a
plan for renovation and reuse of the property,” he said. “It’s not a
small project. We would like to move forward as quickly as possible.”
estimated it could take six to nine months to permit and construct the
wastewater treatment system. Depending on when zoning can be ironed
out, the housing could be opened as soon as September.
buyers are a “small family entity” that has up to now been involved in
land acquisitions, Pereira said. As Virginia Beach residents, he said,
they know and love the Outer Banks.
Pereira declined to say
who earned the $25,000 finders fee, other than to say it was a broker
licensed in North Carolina and Virginia.
Ultimately, he said,
the family wants the property to house a combination of year-round and
vacationing families who can enjoy a sense of community in a unique
natural setting “right under the shadow of the Cape Hatteras
Not only will the building renovations be more
hurricane resistant, he said, the complex will have beach-compatible
landscaping that requires little or no mowing.
“We as much as
possible want to make it fit in with the national seashore,” Pereira
said. “There will be a lot less grass there.”