A Labor of Love
By Kip Tabb –
Chuck Poe, Executive Director of the Outer Banks CDC (Community Development Center), has adjusted with the times. Originally mandated to create affordable housing for the local workforce, Chuck and his staff at the CDC found themselves increasingly in the forefront of efforts to keep people in their homes as the housing bubble collapsed.
Since its founding in 2006, the CDC has built a number of successful projects to house the Outer Banks workforce—Run Hill Ridge and Nature’s Walk in Kill Devil Hills are two of the projects the organization completed.
As the economy became more troubled, though, keeping people in their homes became more important than finding new homes for people. As a result, the CDC has become involved in negotiating on the behalf of homeowners with financial institutions and education efforts to help homeowners avoid getting to the point where they are in danger of losing their home.
There are, however, ongoing housing needs that are not being met.
The new CDC building opening in Nags Head is an effort to address some of those concerns. A multi-use facility, it is designed to give a home to the offices of the CDC as well as other nonprofits. Additionally, there are board rooms available for use by the tenant nonprofits or other area nonprofit organizations, should they need them.
Perhaps most significantly and very much in keeping with the affordable housing mandate of the organization, there are four one bedroom and two two bedroom apartments slated as a first step in getting people back on their feet.
The concept of offering apartments to people rebuilding their lives grew from a discussion Poe had with Lynn Bryant, Executive Director of Outer Banks Hotline. According to Poe, he mentioned to her that the CDC was thinking of building office space and Lynn responded, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we had an apartment that could be a first step for our women getting back into the workforce?”
The offices house five nonprofits including the Outer Banks CDC. In addition to the CDC, Outer Banks Hotline, the Beach Club of Monarch (the provider that is filling the service need that Albemarle Mental Health provided), the Interfaith Council and Catholic Charities.
In addition to office space, the building includes two board rooms. When the building was being designed, Poe noted that nonprofits have a lot of problems finding meeting space. A big problem for nonprofits is the overhead,” he says. “If we have a board meeting we have to rent space and it can be really expensive.”
Plans call for a $25 cleaning fee for nonprofits that wish to use the board rooms.
To bring the project to fruition took tremendous creativity and energy. “It’s got to be a labor of love. We started on this project over two years ago.” Poe says.
Poe pulled a lot of strings to get the finances to align. The total cost of the project was $2.3 million and through the use of grants and specialized loans, the CDC has been able to keep rents low on the office space and apartments. “The only way we could do it was with pretty heavy grant involvement that allows us to drive down any debt service we may have,” Poe explains. “NC Housing Finance agency gave us a $500,000 grant. We worked with the USDA and if it wasn’t for them we would never have gotten this done.”
In addition to grants, Poe also negotiated a 0% loan from the Federal Homeloan Bank under the terms of the Community Reinvestment Act, and received very favorable terms on the balance of the mortgage. “As a consequence we were able to say to our non profits that they could come in and none of them would pay more than 1000 per month,” Poe says.
The building, designed by Nags Head Architects Cahoon and Kasten features a number of sustainable building techniques, although it is not considered a green building. Built in the footprint of a design that had already been permitted by Nags Head, plans for the building came together relatively quickly.
The Outer Banks CDC’s new offices are located at 4301 South Croatan Highway, Nags Head.