University Park: A choice for families, just over the bridge

By on August 10, 2017

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University Park is in Powell’s Point.

While the proposed units at Run Hill, which we covered last month, are targeted to a niche market seeking “affordable luxury,” another developer is taking a different tack with what he calls market-priced housing not far across the Wright Memorial Bridge.

Second of two parts

Norman Bibeau, president and CEO of Elan Vacations, said he wanted to build a family community and he chose the name, University Park Townhomes, to honor his father.

The units are tucked away behind Elan’s main office at 8648 Caratoke Highway in Powell’s Point.

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Bibeau began work on the project last year and 15 townhouses have been built and rented already.

There’s no shortage of discussion about the dearth of housing alternatives along the Outer Banks. The area lacks choices that feed a healthy economy and help sustain a work and retirement population in need of alternatives to home ownership.

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

They can be designed to suit blue collar workers, young professionals, retirees all along the income spectrum, and folks who simply don’t want to own a home anymore.

Two multi-family projects are under way in Dare and Currituck counties, the first such projects in a very long time.

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The first part of our series focused on the Run Hill apartments in Kill Devil Devil Hills. This time we’re heading across the bridge to Currituck County.

In 1961, Bibeau’s father attempted to build a 140-lot development that crossed the borders of Swansea and Somerset, Mass. The project was to be called University Park.

In a story that should be familiar to 21st century Outer Bankers, one town had a sewerage system, while the other used individual septic. The two communities could not come together, and so the project, which the senior Bibeau envisioned as a middle-class neighborhood with rolling terrain and cul de sacs, was never built.

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Bibeau is hoping to honor his father by providing needed housing options for similarly situation residents in 2017.

As he explains, “When this property came up for sale after foreclosure, we were able to purchase it. It is a large tract of land and the best uses were not for townhomes. It could have been commercial or even something like the new $46 million waterpark.”

Bibeau wanted to consolidate Elan’s offices and warehouses into one location, and that project constituted Phase 1 of development.

Elan is primarily a vacation rental management company but also engages in real estate sales and other forms of development.

“After we got the office and warehouse up, just from reading in local media, we knew there was a need for more housing options. So we decided this project wasn’t going to be ‘all about the money.’ We wanted to do something to help expand the inventory of ‘market priced housing.’ We’ve been planning this for over five years,” Bibeau said.

The result was the construction of the first 15 townhouses. The units are legally deeded as townhouses rather than apartments, although he has no intention to ever sell them as individual units.

Norman T. Bibeau, Sr. (second from left) was the developer for the first University Park project in 1961. That project failed, but his son appears to have a market pleaser with the University Park Townhomes in Powells Pont.

Each unit contains three bedrooms, 2½ baths, a private patio and high-end appliances, including a microwave and refrigerator. A washer and dryer are also included.

In the great room, surround-sound speakers are recessed into the ceilings and each home is wired for the highest speed internet available in lower Currituck.

Two parking spaces are provided for each unit.

Unfurnished townhouses run $1,500 a month, while a furnished unit prices out at $2,000 a month.

The grounds include a clubhouse and swimming pool, basketball courts, a playground and a pet walk.

All of the units are currently rented and Bibeau said the renters fit the exact niche markets he was seeking.

“We have families with children, including one family of four. These are people who are not ready to buy a home at this time. Some have ‘split’ work destinations, with one spouse working on the beach and other in Elizabeth City,” he said.

Others are temporary renters; some on temporary work assignments, while others are in the process of purchasing or building a new house.

And a few more have come because they wish to downsize or no longer own and maintain a home; retirees fit into this category.

A well-appointed kitchen comes in every townhome.

Carolyn Hickock, Elan’s broker/Realtor noted that the townhomes are extremely private, with six layers of walls and insulation between each unit.

So far, Hickcock said,no unit has had an electric bill over $100, which she believes in an indication of how well constructed and insulated they are.

And for those who are interested, tenants have not had real issues with the Saturday traffic.

“Most have adapted their schedules to it and in reality, we’re talking maybe six to eight days a year and not all day on any of those crowded Saturdays.

Presently, six more units are well under way and plans are to make them available in September, while another six just under way should be ready by late November or early December.

Bibeau said if those units rent out, another 12 units can be added to Phase 2, and there is still room for 39 more units to be added in Phase 3, for a total of 78 townhomes.

All of the units will follow the same 3-bedroom, 2 ½ bath floor plan.

All of which makes Bibeau, who loves to don a postman’s cap, hop in his golf cart and deliver mail that winds up at the main office to tenants, a very proud developer.

“I’m honoring my father’s legacy and we’re filling a need for housing not available on the Outer Banks at present,” he said.

We think Norman Bibeau Sr. would approve.

And given the sold-out status of the first round of offerings, the market agrees with the marketplace pricing also.

More information can be found at: www.elanvacations.com/townhome-rentals

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Comments

Patricia Merski

August 27, 2017 2:13 pm

We need affordable rental for the citizens on the Outer Banks, not just the tourist population…what about us….get with it folks….we live here and need affordable places to live

????

August 14, 2017 5:25 pm

I think they said the units are “fully rented” there Frankly

Wake up

August 14, 2017 5:20 pm

A lot of people can’t afford to live at the beach. That’s why they don’t. I raised and educated my kids in Dare County. After college I told them do not come back here for a career. They listened. A whole lot more opportunity in the world than this strip of beach people.

Wake up

August 14, 2017 5:08 pm

Typical liberal attitude, it doesn’t fffeeeell right to me, so it can’t be right for anybody. They put up the money, bought the property and built the units. None of your business what they charge.
What do you tell the poor farmers up there that want to cash out, make a few bucks and give their families a better life? Can’t pay you what you want Mr. Landowner, we’re here to make sure everyone gets $600 rent.

Local Girl

August 14, 2017 12:54 pm

Another local company out of tune with the citizens of the Outer Banks community. These are NOT affordable…nothing about these homes are affordable. The county caters to those with money, not us peasants. People will continue to rent rooms that are considered illegal duplexes. Dare and Currituck need to get with the program. Out of tune commissioners are making decisions and they are clueless. Who votes these people into county office?

Bud

August 14, 2017 10:36 am

Now they want to destroy the Currituck mainland too.

Brenda

August 14, 2017 10:07 am

I really can’t say this is affordable housing. My pay dropped $4.00 per hour when I crossed over the state line. You cannot afford $1500 month on $600 a week paychecks.

MG

August 11, 2017 7:16 am

Average income for Dare county is $660 per week, less for Currituck county. Affordable???

Darkseas

August 11, 2017 1:29 am

Currituck County will rue the day they allowed townhomes with only two parking spaces and apparently no on-street parking. Three bedrooms mean family homes, and how many families have one car? If there are older children who drive, expect more than two cars per unit. It’s also reasonable to expect boats, trailers, and the like. And what happens when the residents have friends over, or have a party?

Townhome communities need at least three spaces per unit, including those in front of the units and scattered on the streets in the development — and that may not be enough. What will likely happen here is parking on the street (not really wide enough for that, so narrowing the street to one lane or less), and on the grass/sand beside and behind the homes. Obviously the fire department didn’t have any input into this.

If you’re going to build townhome developments, you ought to know something about them before you do.

Frankly

August 10, 2017 11:51 pm

What a joke!! The people who can afford 1500.00 to 2000.00 are going to buy a house or rent a house for that kind of money. Noone would want some crappy condo in Currituck for that kind of cash. What a freaking joke!!

IB

August 10, 2017 11:21 am

These units appear to be beautiful but still, certainly not affordable for many Outer Banks families. These units are $500 more than my mortgage. For people with plenty of money though, they seems like a good alternative to buying.

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