UPDATE: Redevelopment of old Coast Guard
housing gets commissioners’ approval
By CATHERINE KOZAK
The Cottages at the Cape project in Buxton cleared a major hurdle on
Monday, with unanimous approval by the Dare County Board of
Commissioners of a zoning change that will permit duplexes and
rebuilding of buildings under certain conditions.
Formerly housing for Coast Guard families at Group Cape Hatteras, the
45-unit complex has been vacant since 2005 and requires substantial
Lee Pontes, one of the project’s managers, told the board during the
public hearing that the developers expect to spend about $2 million to
restore the property, including construction of new stormwater and
“The cottages are currently in a state of disrepair, which increases every day,” Pontes said.
Developers had requested to change the zoning at the 8-acre site
adjacent to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse from Natural Historic to
Buxton Natural Historic. With the new zoning in place, they now plan to
ask the Coast Guard for a license to start repair work on the buildings
before the closing next month, co-manager James Pereira said after the
In September, the Coast Guard accepted a bid of about $2.6 million from
Sylakama LLC, a Virginia Beach acquisition company owned by three
sisters. Pontes and Pereira are married to two of the sisters.
Chris Wade, a resident of a neighboring subdivision, told the board
that she opposed the zoning change, in part, because the systems
proposed to treat stormwater and wastewater “are flimsy.” She also
questioned what they’re going to do about ocean overwash from the
“There is no longer any dune,” Wade said, referring to the buffer
between the eroding shoreline and the buildings, “which is why the
lighthouse was moved.”
Others had safety concerns about traffic and pedestrian safety. The
commissioners agreed that a traffic study to look into sidewalk
construction and possibly a traffic light should be investigated.
But Holly Austin, vice-president at Hatteras Realty, said that the
project would be a great thing for the community to have the facility
brought “back to life” and have the undesirable flooding and standing
water addressed at the site.
“If this is going to be a viable project,” she told commissioners, “it
is in the owners’ best interest to make sure those issues are taken
Hatteras Realty will be managing the properties for the company,
Pereira said after the meeting. Since a half basketball court and
parking areas already have to be removed to install the wastewater
treatment system, Pereira said there will no pool at the site. But
tenants and renters will be able to use the real estate company’s
Olympic-size pool in Avon, he said.
In a presentation given at the commissioners’ May 21 meeting, Pereira
detailed the benefits to the county and the community -- property tax
revenue would be about $41,000 per year and occupancy tax would be
about 5 percent of total lodging revenue.
Considering that, according to the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce, the
average family spends $2,751 per week on summer vacation, and the 36
seasonal cottages will be rented more than six prime weeks, that means
there would be $555,336 in additional money poured into the local
Pereira also said that local contractors and merchants were given
priorities in bidding for work related to an expected $2 million in
renovation costs. After the closing on July 2, he said there will be
work totaling more than $280,000 for Dare County painters; $220,000 for
flooring; $240,000 for HVAC; $150,000 for stormwater and landscaping;
$200,000 for the wastewater system; and for Hatteras Island
contractors, $210,000 for plumbing, electrical and carpentry; $300,000
for North Carolina furniture and appliances and $100,000 annually for
Hatteras Realty, at a steady rate.
If the Coast Guard gives the group permission, as soon as possible the
developers want to start building the stormwater system, which will
include a 5-foot foot deep retention pond and berms along the whole
back area built 7 feet above sea level, that will contain any
stormwater to the site. The system is designed to handle rainwater from
a 10-year, 24-hour storm event with 7.33-inches of rainwater.
“It shows the level of commitment to the neighbors,” he said.
Pereira said that he expects some of the units will be ready to be occupied by the end of the summer.