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Marina operators tackle Rochichi project / December 11, 2013
Mecklenburg County is working with a new set of partners, Scott and Catherine Hughes of Satterwhite Point Marina, to restart long-stalled plans to develop a marina at Rochichi Point outside of Boydton.

The Hughes are residents of Bracey and owner-operators of Satterwhite Point Marina, located near Henderson, N.C. The couple contacted county officials about the proposed Rochichi project after the previous developers, M & J Development, dropped plans to build Willow Grove Marina and other facilities at the Rudd’s Creek site.

Scott Hughes said that when he and his wife heard that Mecklenburg County was looking for a new development partner for the site, “We began talking with [Economic Development Director] Angie [Kellett].”

At their regular monthly meeting on Monday night, members of the Board of Supervisors agreed to sublease the property to the Hughes.

“Our plan is to follow the same model we used with Satterwhite Point Marina,” said Scott Hughes. Initially the site will consist of a marina facility with wet slips, docks and a marine store. Gradually the Hughes will look to add cabins and dry stack storage for smaller boats. They considered adding an area for longer-term RV parking, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) balked at the idea, said Hughes.

USACE owns the Rochichi Point property, which it leases to Mecklenburg County, which in turn is sub-leasing to the Hughes.

They hope to have the marina open for business by spring 2014.

“That there is already a building with public restrooms is a big plus for us,” said Hughes. He and his wife have been to the site several times.

As managers of Satterwhite Point, the Hughes are aware of the demand for additional dock space on the lake. “We hear it every day, the call for more slips, especially ones that can handle large boats.” Additionally, said Catherine Hughes, “right now there is 24 miles between gas stops. This site offers another more centrally located facility.”

Speaking to the Board of Supervisors on Monday, Hughes heaped praise on county officials, especially Kellett, who helped the couple work through the sublease details with USACE. In response, Kellett said, “Mecklenburg County is very excited to work with Scott and Catherine to finally see some progress at the Rochichi site.”

The 200-acre lakefront property was slated in 2010 to become the site of a $2.5 million marina, with lodging, tennis and picnic areas, fishing piers, beaches, and other amenities. However, M & J Development ran into financing and licensing problems that ground the project to a halt. By the end of 2010, developers had promised but never completed the installation of a 135-slip marina and a ship’s store. The store was built, but not opened, and construction never began on Willow Grove Marina.

At the time, Tracey Norvelle with M & J Development blamed the weather and administrative issues for the company’s failure to deliver on its promises. The project envisioned by M & J Development was valued at $100 million.

In March 2013, county supervisors agreed to terminate Mecklenburg’s sublease agreement with M & J Development for failing to honor the terms and conditions of its agreement. That vote opened up the door for the Hughes to take over the site.

Already, they’ve started cleaning up the property and are drawing up plans for the marina and surrounding property. Hughes said that he is not certain if he and his wife will ever develop all 200 acres. Other potential uses for the property could include a residential development, hotel conference center, and cultural center, all of which were considered by county officials.

At the Satterwhite Point Marina facility on Kerr Lake in North Carolina, the Hughes have boat storage, lakeside cabin rentals, a public launching ramp, a gas dock and convenience store. That marina is located at Exit 217 off Interstate 85, 30 minutes from Durham, N.C., and 30 minutes from South Hill. The marina is located by water off Buoy K.

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