SAVING THE SOUL OF OCRACOKE
“It’s a preservation victory when heritage and water quality both stand to benefit from a real estate deal.”
Catherine Kozak, Coastal Review Online, Nov. 2013
Stories From The Square
In the first of a series of "Stories From The Square," Part 1 features beloved islanders Trudy Austin, Melissa Garrish Sharber, and Mandy Garrish Jones.
2016-2017 Restoration & Endowment Campaign
Part 3 features island native John Ivey Wells and Vince Rockel, 40+ year island home owner.
Part 2 features Kris Cahoon Noble, Assistant Hyde County Manager and Economic Development Director.
The Community Square was listed for public sale in 2009. Our primary concern was losing the Square, the heart of the island’s maritime heritage, to private development. Our intent was to take this valuable island asset, restore and preserve it, and put it to work for the community. After working closely with the seller, The Ocracoke Foundation was able to access two interim loans for the $1.6M purchase in November 2013. The Conservation Fund and a Private Donor each put up $800,000.
PRIMARY GOAL: REPAY ACQUISITION LOAN The $800,000 interim loan from The Conservation Fund [TCF] must be now be repaid, The other $800,000 loan is being forgiven by the Donor.
It is imperative that we repay this debt to TCF instead of using the lease income for mortgage debt service. The impact of Tropical Storm Hermine in September 2016, followed by the record-setting flood waters of Hurricane Matthew one month later, make it clear that the 5 National Register Historic structures and docks require repairs, flood mitigation, and restoration work. A century of storms has taken its toll on structures 80-116 years old. If the Community Square is encumbered with liens, our ability to obtain grants and loans for restoration of this iconic maritime heritage site is severely limited.
The Silver Lake Hotel/Motel/Jolly Roger/Docks property was purchased in 2016 by a LLC based in Reston, VA. The historic Island Inn is closed and for sale. Now, more than ever, keeping the Square community owned, and preserving Ocracoke's rich culture and maritime history is vital.
Also, debt-free ownership will also allow future income to directly benefit the Ocracoke community through a Community Grants Fund.
GOAL TWO: RESTORATION In order to preserve the historic structures, docks, and shoreline that make up Community Square, restoration and improvements are essential. The Ocracoke Foundation has been actively seeking grant monies to help in this endeavor.
“OFI’s multi-faceted approach to the preservation of special places like the Community Square serves as a sustainable model for other rural communities, where the potential is great but the funding is limited. We’re honored to provide quick financial assistance for the purchase and revitalization of this beloved community hub and excited to see its transformation.”
Reggie Hall, Director
The Conservation Fund
Land Conservation Loan Program