By Kip Tabb | Outer Banks Voice on October 29, 2020
With planning currently on hold for the Soundside Event Site, it’s unclear what the future holds for the prime Nags Head location.
“That site is a strategic site, and it’s a very important site for the entire future of the northern beaches,” said Webb Fuller, a Nags Head Commissioner who is also on the Dare County Tourism Board’s Event Site Advisory Group.
That group, tasked with considering plans for what is widely viewed as an under-utilized site, first met in December 2019 and last met in February 2020 before its work was interrupted by the COVID pandemic. It has not yet reconvened, but when it does, it will presumably be looking at options that could potentially transform that location into a major multi-use venue.
While consultants have proposed, among other things, a facility that includes a 30,000 square- foot event venue, a 5,400 square-foot ballroom and a 200-room hotel, several members of the advisory group have expressed reservations about the idea of a hotel.
In early March, the Nags Head Commissioners declined the advisory group’s request to study issues relating to sewage and parking if a 200-room hotel and convention center were to be constructed on the property.
For now, the advisory group’s work has been halted, with Outer Banks Visitors Bureau Executive Director Lee Nettles, saying that, “We have just got to recognize that…locals, residents and businesses have been through a lot. We will restart that network soon enough.”
Describing the group’s work to date, Nettles added that, “We’ve just been trying to understand what our options are and what we would need to do procedurally to make it happen.”
Fuller points out that no decisions have been made about the best use for the location, noting that the committee was in the first stages of developing a master plan.
“I think we’re at a point of maybe starting to look at various scenarios and see…the potentials out there…There’s a lot of people out there that don’t see a need for big hotel. There’s some people that think that’d be the greatest thing we could do. I don’t think there’s any decision on what the long-term future is period.”
Advisory Group Member Myra Ladd-Bone agrees, saying, “Everybody had different ideas what to do with it.”
Although the group is not meeting at this time, there are areas where the town and the Visitors Bureau may find themselves working together in the future. Fuller points specifically to a boardwalk that would extend from the north end of the property to the Outlets Nags Head shopping plaza.
“In the short term, both the town, and the tourist bureau have looked at putting a boardwalk in along the soundside, and the Tourist Bureau is actually putting money into design within the next year,” he said.