Marriott would be first new KDH hotel in 30 years

By on November 9, 2016

The site is at the southern end of KDH. (Michelle Wagner)

Town planners have endorsed plans for what would be the first new hotel to come to Kill Devil Hills in nearly three decades.

First Flight Hotel LLC has submitted a site plan for a 152-bedroom TownePlace Suites on the west side of N.C. 12 at milepost 8.5. The Marriott hotel would be built on the property once home to the Ebb Tide Motel, which closed back in 2015.

The proposal includes a three-story adjacent oceanfront restaurant and elevated outdoor swimming pool.

“They are ready to start construction as soon as they get approval,” said Kill Devil Hills Assistant Planning Director Bryan Brightbill of the Williamsburg, Va. developer.

With the Planning Board’s endorsement, the Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners will consider the project during its Nov. 14 meeting.

The Ebb Tide, with its 42 rooms, has been one of the many motels and cottage courts to shut down along the Outer Banks over the last 20 years. And the dwindling number of hotel rooms has grabbed the attention of local officials recently.

In January, town officials held a meeting to consider what, if anything, the municipality should do to become more hotel-friendly. This spring, commissioners amended the zoning ordinance to ease density regulations for hotels and motels in the commercial district.

The last hotel built in Kill Devil Hills was Quality Inn, erected at milepost 7. 5 in 1989, said Brightbill.

If approved, the 85,054-square-foot TownePlace Suites will have an entry level plus three floors, feature an indoor swimming pool, full kitchens and other amenities and include 227 parking spaces. About a third of those parking spaces will be under the hotel with the remaining surrounding it.

First Flight Hotel LLC purchased the 3.05-acre Ebb Tide lot, an adjoining lot, and adjacent oceanfront property this summer.

According to Dare County tax records, the current value of the 3.05-acre property is $1.47 million. The adjoining property to the north is valued at $358,000. Those properties slated for the hotel fall within the town’s commercial zoning district.

The oceanfront lots slated for the restaurant and swimming pool are valued at approximately $1.68 million combined. Both are in the municipality’s Ocean Impact Residential zone. Two homes now on the properties will either be moved or demolished, Brightbill said.

The 7,916-square-foot oceanfront building will feature the restaurant and elevated outdoor pool. The restaurant will be open to the public and have 29 parking spaces.

Also on the property is the old Ship’s Wheel restaurant. (Michelle Wagner)

The northern beaches of Dare County have lost 25 percent of their hotel and motel rooms since 2000, according to Outer Banks Visitors Bureau Managing Director Lee Nettles. During that same time period, Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills alone have lost 880 rooms. Of those, 308 were in Kill Devil Hills.

Nettles said new businesses, along with more hotel and motel rooms, are a plus to keeping the community vibrant. “We welcome it,” he said.

Jamie Chisholm, president of the Outer Banks Hotel-Motel Association, said the organization was excited about the prospect of a new hotel.

“Change is a good thing,” she said. “New hotel rooms make this area better and we don’t want to lose our visitors. It’s a good alternative for those looking for a weeklong rental and there are times during the summer when the Outer Banks doesn’t have any hotel inventory left.”

Chisholm added that the TownePlace brand would be great for the area. “It’s a nice brand and different than any one we have here.”

One local hotel owner says he welcomes the competition.

Nick Nuzzi and business partner Evelyn Ottavio own Shutters on the Banks at milepost 8. Once Colony IV, he and Ottavio’s husband, Dan, purchased the old hotel and renovated it in 2003.

The Ebb Tide closed in 2015. (Michelle Wagner)

The partners also owned Cabana East and Tanya’s Oceanhouse in Nags Head but sold them to developers in the late 1990s.

“There is a great need for more hotel rooms here,” said Nuzzi, adding that oceanfront property is disappearing quickly. “These homes are grabbing up the oceanfront and there isn’t going to be any more oceanfront lots for hotels.”

TownePlace Suites has about 300 hotels in the United States and Canada. Its first hotel opened in 1997 in Newport News, Va.

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