By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on July 15, 2021
After a discussion that largely dealt with the pros and cons of adding a hotel to the mix, the Dare County Tourism Board agreed to accept the July 8 Event Site Advisory Committee recommendation for a $17.6 million, 48,000-square-foot event center at the Soundside Event Site in Nags Head.
As noted by Outer Banks Visitors Bureau Executive Director Lee Nettles at the July 15 Tourism Board meeting, the proposal being discussed is a “concept vision” for the center, not a formal, final or detailed plan. The proposal does not include a hotel, which was essentially deemed to be “another big building” not appropriate for the scenic site.
The center, as currently conceived, would include a 26,000 square-foot event hall, a 1,500-square-foot meeting room and a 2,800-sqaure foot catering kitchen. In the discussion, Nettles noted that the 48,000-square-foot facility would be about half the size of the K-Mart site and about the same size as the Publix market. Its goal would be to attract visitors to the OBX in the non-peak visitor months.
In the discussions, Nettles reviewed what he thought would be community benefits of the event center, including using the catering kitchen as a training “incubator” for local high school students to work on the culinary arts. He also pointed to sports uses for the facility, saying it was perhaps more likely to host events such as gymnastics, wrestling and pickleball rather than large-crowd sports such as basketball.
On the subject of the hotel, Nettles said that several studies conclude that such a facility would make the event center “more economically viable.” But he also ticked off a number of complications involved in building a hotel, including the need for much more septic, some kind of subsidy and the opposition of the county’s existing hotel and motel operators.
Tourism Board Member and Duck Mayor Pro Tem Monica Thibodeau said that “Personally, I’m delighted that the Advisory Committee stayed away from the hotel,” adding that it would dramatically cut down on green space at the site. None of the Tourism Board members who spoke during the discussion endorsed the idea of including a hotel in the current conceptual proposal.
Nettles is expected to present the board’s position and the proposal to the Dare County Commissioners at their Aug. 2 meeting.