Currituck commissioners to consider sale of Moyock Welcome Center property
Published 7:58 pm Sunday, November 6, 2022
Currituck commissioners will consider the sale of the Welcome Center in Moyock at their meeting Monday, November 7.
Frontier Building approached the county with an unsolicited offer to buy the property at 106 Caratoke Highway for $2.2 million. The company has plans to put in a Wawa gas station and convenience store.
County commissioners had the property appraised, which came in at $1,875,000. Frontier’s offer was close to $400,000 above the appraised value. If commissioners approve the resolution at Monday’s meeting to sell the property, the next step in the process is the upset bid process – a process whereby the county must publish the offer in local newspapers to allow any potential buyers to make a higher offer. If, after 10 days, no better offer comes in, the county will move forward with the due diligence portion of the sale.
County manager Ike McRee estimates that the process will take, at minimum, 10 months, and longer if other bids come through. The county would plan to keep the Moyock Welcome Center open for the duration of the sale process.
Josh Bass, president of Currituck Chamber of Commerce, is concerned about what a Welcome Center closure would mean for local businesses.
“For many mom and pop places,” Bass said, “a significant portion of their business comes from Welcome Center recommendations. If, for example, even 5 percent comes from the Welcome Center, that could be the difference between profitability or not.”
McRee questioned the usefulness of the current Welcome Center, saying that most people find information about area restaurants and attractions on their smartphones anyway.
Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Payment is envisioning a new Welcome Center with more potential for tourism. In a phone interview with The Coastland Times on November 4, he mentioned a large parking area, an easily accessible turnaround, covered picnic area, a safe, enclosed area to walk dogs, a hands-free information kiosk and electric car-charging stations.
“To keep up with technology, I think it’s time we look at the future and instead of staying in a building that limits what we can do,” Payment said. The current center was formerly a car dealership and does not accommodate RVs or trucks pulling boats or campers.
For years, there has been talk between the county and NC Department of Transportation to build a Welcome Center at the intersection of Highway 168 and Highway 158. Payment mentioned rebuilding a center in Moyock or another location sometime in the future.
“It can go anywhere. There’s so much land between Barco and Moyock,” he said, citing the possibility for a larger, more accommodating property.
Bass, however, is concerned about the interim, as well as the location of a potential Welcome Center. “Many northern businesses would be missed if the visitor center was relocated to an area of the county such as Barco, and once they reached the welcome center, it is unlikely they would return. The Tourism Department does a wonderful job, and we want to ensure that they can do their job for years to come,” Bass said in an email to Currituck Chamber of Commerce members.
Regarding current employees of the Welcome Center in Moyock, McRee said that “there won’t be a wave of dismissal.” The core travel and tourism staff, as well as the marketing and promotion staff, will work at another county location. For the temporary employees who work at the front desk, “There still can be opportunities for them,” he assured.
“We have other places we need to staff,” he added, mentioning open positions at the Jarvisburg Colored School, Historic Corolla Park and the Currituck Maritime Museum. “There’ll be opportunities for people to retain employment with the county.”
Commissioners will discuss the issue at Monday’s regularly-scheduled commissioners meeting at 6 p.m. at the historic courthouse. Community members are invited to attend and sign up for public comment.