New rental projects aim to add choices to beach living

By on July 16, 2017

Run Hill apartments are planned for KDH. (Artist’s rendering)

There’s no shortage of discussions about the dearth of housing alternatives along the Outer Banks.

The bottom line is that the area lacks the choices that feed a healthy economy and help sustain a work and retirement population in need of alternatives to home ownership.

We rely far too much on buying or renting detached single-family dwellings. In short supply are condos, townhouses, cluster homes and, most of all, apartments.

Apartments are a needed element in any community. They can be designed, in terms of amenities and pricing, to appeal to blue collar workers, young professionals, retirees all along the income spectrum, and folks who simply don’t want to own a home anymore.

First of two parts

Two local developers have put together projects to help supply inventory in these alternative markets.

Run Hill Apartments
The brochure for this soon-to-be west side apartment project proclaims “Coastal living at its finest,” and as we met with Amit Gupta, president of SAGA Realty & Construction, and Debbie Gabbert, the Community Sales Manager for the project, it became apparent that several factors set it apart in the Dare County housing market.

“This is not an ROI (return on investment) project,” Gupta said. “This project is much more a need-based effort as we’re seeing no one has solved the issue of housing or people having to leave the area because of a lack of housing choices. We need to figure out a new way to solve the problem.”

SAGA could have more easily taken on a turnkey project, building and selling homes or townhouses rather than entering the rental business, where recouping one’s investment takes much longer and long-term expenses of maintaining property stay with the developer rather than a buyer.

But Gupta noted his own company’s issues with housing employees, including problems with their new restaurant, Marsala Bay, just across the Wright Memorial Bridge in Currituck County.

“If there wasn’t a house on the property for the workers, the restaurant probably wouldn’t be open,” he said.

Nestled between First Flight High School and the Spring Arbor facility in Bermuda Bay, this centrally located project hopes to have its first 32 units open for residents in early 2018, with the pool and other amenities opening by summer 2018.

Once the first phase of 32 units are fully occupied, SAGA plans to build 64 more on the tract over the following two years, for a total of 96 apartments, or “villas” as they refer to the units.

A study commissioned by SAGA indicated a need for over 400 such apartments in Dare County, so there’s plenty of pent-up demand for units offering the amenities and floor plans at Run Hill.

Gupta and Gabbert identified several potential niche markets for the Run Hill Apartments — professionals looking for a luxury lifestyle community, those wishing to relocate to the Outer Banks and in need of a place to live while they decide on a more permanent option and people wishing to downsize into a luxury, maintenance-free setting without the hassle of home ownership.

The latter group is one Gupta said often leaves the area because of the lack of housing alternatives.

“Once they decide they no longer want to take care of a house and yard, there’s nowhere for them to live locally. Some have told us, once we get this built, they would love to move back to the area,” he said.

To accommodate this market, Gabbert says they are offering four floor plans for one, two and three bedroom units. The two-bedroom units will comprise the largest segment of the inventory.

One bedrooms rents are proposed to fall in the $1,380 to $1,500-per-month range, two-bedroom units at $1,690 to $2,200, and three-bedroom units topping out at $2,290 to $2,450 per month.

Gabbert said price differences reflect differences in views (courtyard vs. street), and levels (each building will be four stories) and with the two-bedroom units, differences in floor plans.

One-bedroom units are 800 heated/air conditioned square feet. The two-bedroom units offer choices of 1,077 or 1,152 square feet, while the three-bedroom apartments check in at 1,385 square feet.

Each comes with its own large covered porch and each building also has a common area covered deck for added outdoor access.

Compared to what it costs many to rent smaller, older houses in Dare County, these apartments will represent a major step-up in value for the local population.

Each villa has an open-concept floor plan. Kitchens boast quartz countertops and stainless-steel appliances. The covered terraces are roomy, ranging from 96 to 176 square feet.

Living areas sport hard-surface flooring, washers and dryers are installed in every unit, and bathrooms will be well-appointed.

The complex will accept pets, and a small dog park will be part of the common area.

An even cooler concept will the availability to rent a garage for your car ($135-$150 a month proposed at this time) or a storage loft for $75 a month.

Forty-eight garages and 28 storage lofts will be built and leased on a first-come, first-served basis.

Gabbert notes there will be a clubhouse with a “full workout facility, a “real” movie theater, game room, wide screen TVs, and a gathering space with no equipment or TVs so that folks can meet in a quiet, distraction-free environment.

She described the proposed pool and spa area as spacious with a resort feel.

Covered pavilions are planned, gas grills will be supplied as well as fire pit areas, green areas for lawn games and walking, and some smaller outdoor areas for more intimate gatherings.

The complex is contemplating a pier on the sound and it is within easy walking or biking distance to the Albemarle Sound, the Wright Brothers National Memorial, Aviation Park, bike paths along Colington Road, and of course, the Atlantic Ocean.

The Run Hill area also has its own community lake and walking paths close by, with more park development planned in the area by the Town of Kill Devil Hills, including a disc golf course.

Gupta and Gabbert both say the company wants  to imbue Run Hill with a sense of luxury and quality of life not present in other local housing alternatives.

Special attention has been paid to safety and “little things” that appeal to those wanting a maintenance-free lifestyle as well as some extras rarely seen in apartment complexes.

For example, each building will have controlled access entry for added security and high speed elevators will be installed are in each building. Each building has its own garbage bin, so residents won’t have to carry or drive their refuse to a central location.

And here’s a neat proposed extra.

For those who move to Run Hill because of downsizing, space for visiting kids and grandkids is at a premium. The developers are proposing to furnish a few units that can be rented like hotel rooms to house visiting family members.

The developers are taking a limited number of $500, fully refundable priority reservations. More information can be obtained at or by calling 866-364-9534.

The Outer Banks Voice was not compensated for this story. We regularly cover real estate projects in Dare and Currituck County without regard for advertising. All developers of real estate projects, residential and commercial, are invited to contact the Voice and let us know about significant, new projects coming to the area.

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  • Concerned citizen

    @Bob you must’ve conveniently forgot to include the reference to “blue-collar workers” which in my humble opinion alludes to the hard working, middle class obx worker. This housing is “affordable” and “accomodating” to the careless young professional seeking a luxurious lifestyle, the retiree with money, and the folks who don’t want to maintain a house. It is blasphemous of this disgrace of a company to show such incompetence by concluding that the housing problem delves from a lack of options.

    Thursday, Jul 20 @ 2:26 pm
  • Really?

    Money grubbers at it again!
    ALL about the money!

    Friday, Jul 21 @ 8:15 am
  • Steve O

    Who says you have a right to live at the damn beach! There are 1500 buildable lots in Columbia, 30 minute drive to jobs on OBX. You ever tried the commutes in Philly, DC, Atlanta?? So you gotta drive a little to put your toes in the sand. I know guys who commute from Engelhard, 3 bedrooms $600 month.

    I’d like to live on the beach in San Diego or Central Park West. I don’t cause I can’t afford it. These property owners are getting $1500 cause that’s what people are willing to pay. Section 8 housing because we have a lack of opportunity for beachcombers and dawn patrol surfers? Give me a break!

    Monday, Jul 24 @ 6:26 pm