Manteo moves forward on housing pilot project

By on September 10, 2021

Rendering of the site of the proposed pilot project

As Dare County continues to grapple with how to address the affordable housing crisis, the Town of Manteo is moving forward with a pilot project on a .9-acre town-owned parcel at the corner of Sir Walter Raleigh and Bideford streets.

During its September 1 meeting, the Manteo Board of Commissioners authorized Town Manager James Ayers to put out Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for a project that will either include four single-family units or seven multi-family units on the property in hopes of entering into a public-private partnership with a developer.

In throwing her support behind the project, Mayor Pro Tem Betty Selby asserted during the meeting that, “We’ve been waiting long enough, and we’ve been talking about affordable housing for seventeen years.”

Ayers told the board the town could get the RFPs out in the next 30 to 60 days. In early July, the town signed a contract with an engineer to help with conceptual phase of the project and Ayers indicated that the bulk of the preliminary work has been done. He also noted that the small pilot could potentially be the first of more similar projects in Manteo.

“Reports from Dare County and their consultants in the past show a massive need for affordable housing on the Outer Banks,” Ayres told the board during its Sept. 1 meeting. “I don’t think that the second smallest municipality, however, can solve the entire region’s problem. But we certainly need to take care of the folks right here in this jurisdiction.”

Of the pilot project, Ayers noted, “It’s feasible, there’s no variance required, there’s no filling of wetlands…so four single-family or seven multi-family units are achievable and available for us to do.”

If the town opts for the latter configuration, Ayers said it would consist of two-bedroom units with two parking spaces each. “There’s even room for a little park area there and it projects a lot of the big trees” along Bideford Street and allows for open space, he added.

While Ayers noted that the board has indicated that the town ideally would like to embark on a public-private partnership, he said it was prepared to move forward with the project on its own if the board chose to do so.

During his presentation, the Town Manager noted that there are adjacent areas to the town where there can be some cooperation between the Manteo and the county – such as the Bowsertown tract the county is exploring as a site for between 70 and 75 affordable housing units. He also cited the Elizabethan Inn property, which the county is investigating as a potential site for additional housing.

The town’s role in those projects, Ayers said, would primarily be to provide utility access. But he stressed to commissioners, there are actions the municipality can take now to address the issue of affordable housing.

Of the urgency to move forward, Ayers declared: “The need is now, of course. There are folks right now who need housing, there are folks who are turning away from Dare County and even the town of Manteo because of lack of housing…And that creates a brain drain. We are losing the talents of young people here. We cannot lose that talent and I’ve heard anecdotal evidence of that.





  • Breynn

    Nice! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

    Friday, Sep 10 @ 2:19 pm
  • Deborah

    years ago employers would take care of housing for employees. Yes, Please Let’s MOVE FORWARD and make the OUTER BANKS CHEAPER!!! Add a few more tee shirt stores, a few more second hand stores, as long as real estate is selling and renting. There is NO DIGNITY HERE! No yes mam, No oil lamps, no classic hotels, no white table cloths. No old Arlington.
    No Seafare, No Alice, No Andy….nothing and no one to stand up for the people who are paid nothing SO THEY CAN NOT AFFORD TO LIVE HERE!

    Friday, Sep 10 @ 5:28 pm
  • Lisa M

    This is a serious issue and I’m glad to see Manteo moving forward. My daughter and her husband live on the outer banks and even with 2 good incomes, paying for housing is a strain.
    A few years ago, there was public support for allowing development for tourism on the ocean side and keeping the sound side reserved for locals. This sounds like a great solution.
    Tourism is the lifeblood of the economy there, but if none of the people needed to run those businesses can afford to live there, the local flavor will be lost. That would be a tragedy, but it could also cause a collapse of that very economy.
    All the condos, hotels and restaurants that can fit on the island will be useless if there’s no one to clean them and keep them in good repair.
    You need chefs, servers and bartenders. You need electricians and plumbers. It goes on. You need teachers, firefighters, policemen, mechanics….
    Who is going to drive from the mainland to work in a grocery store?
    Who could afford to?

    More municipalities had better get on top of this before all available real estate is locked in for rentals.

    Saturday, Sep 11 @ 3:11 pm
  • Stan Clough

    Local government attempting to create “affordable housing” is a fools errand. I know from experience, I am glad I tried in many ways but the free market controls life unless you want to be a socialist / marxist / communist country. I for one choose Freedom. The real estate market will more than likely continue to be “robust” as people realise how special this strip of land is

    Sunday, Sep 12 @ 11:07 pm
  • obxboxer

    I am glad to hear and see this but it just may be too little too late. This strip of land is so different, as a lifer I am finding it harder and harder to want to stay here. The community feel is gone. Too many outsiders bringing the things they didn’t like about where they use to live down here with them but claiming to love our community…But they change it. Let them all have it and everything go to crap and then maybe we can all move back in 20 years.

    Monday, Sep 13 @ 12:57 pm
  • Edward Hendrix

    Would like to know what they call”Affordable Housing” . A projected number would be helpful. Have a couple of humble properties I rent, It costs more than $400 per month in taxes and insurance alone just to own them . God forbid what the mortgage notes are on some of these folks in addition to that fixed number.

    Monday, Sep 13 @ 4:47 pm

    Mr. Clough- This has nothing to do with socialism or communism. you appear to be very anti affordable housing to the extent that you told someone to not let the door them hit their a– on the way out when they commented that they may no longer be able to afford to live here after living here for over 25 years. It is a continuing problem that should have been addressed a long time ago but many of the people who have the positions and power to make changes are too tied to the real estate market and have special interests. The locals have seen this for too long. Many cities have affordable housing so why not here? The workforce shortage will continue to be a problem every tourist season and busing people in from Columbia and Elizabeth City is a ridiculous plan. The issue is that if you are not rich , it has become very difficult to afford to live here because of housing.

    Tuesday, Sep 14 @ 11:39 am
  • Bud

    Tourism is ruining the lifeblood of our area, it’s economy and environment. Destroying our neighborhoods, ruining entire communities.
    Twenty years ago it was healthy due to a different demographic.

    Tuesday, Sep 14 @ 12:36 pm
  • Stan Clough

    Comment to Lisa Haynes, 20 years ago I started building affordable homes for people that live and work here. That was my intent. There are builders and developers that will build anything for a profit. Local governments regulations make it not profitable to build the type of housing that is needed. As a kdh planning board member KDH passed and implemented a housing ordinance to create affordable housing. I tried to utilise the ordinance myself but it did not work. We tried. I deeply comprehend the problem and government needs to get out of the way and not spend tax dollars on studies, relax regulations and minimise government infringements

    Wednesday, Sep 15 @ 10:05 am
  • Stan Clough

    A reminder to all that the only constant in life is change, and our strip of sand has changed in who is here and why they are here.

    Wednesday, Sep 15 @ 10:21 am
  • Stan Clough

    Bud, tourism is the economy, maybe actually think about that. Is that demographic you ?

    Wednesday, Sep 15 @ 10:52 am