Saving Obici House

Published 2:28 pm Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I’ve been playing golf at all of the great golf courses in and around Suffolk for about 20 years now. Within the last two decades, the number and quality of golf courses has grown.

One thing that hasn’t changed, except for the worse, has been the condition and appearance of the Obici House next to the 18th hole at Sleepy Hole Golf Course.

The house has perhaps the most scenic location in the city, especially in the evening. Even in its current state, which has only been to be an accidental target for sliced irons into the 18th green, it is still easy to see the potential for something creative and valuable to come from the house and the bluff overlooking the widening Nansemond River.

All of this is why last week’s news from Citizens for the Preservation of Obici House should be seen as excellent news. The group submitted a proposal to the City Council for the house’s renovation.

Citizens for the Preservation of Obici House plans to turn Obici House into a restaurant. Like most good ideas, it’s not going to be easy work. The plan will need an investment of up to $2.77 million, most of which would be going to renovate and restore the home and carriage house before getting into turning it into a restaurant.

But the plan fits perfectly with the golfers who already make Sleepy Hole a busy course and with the growth of North Suffolk in general.

The group’s plan for Obici House is actually many ideas in one. The house will include the main restaurant along with a bar. There will be seating for about 150 people indoors and out. Anyone who’s played a round at Sleepy Hole has seen the raised terrace on the Obici House, facing the green, the river and the sunset. Especially in the spring and fall, the demand to sit on the terrace should be constant.

Turning the carriage house into a casual grill room and bar for golfers is a perfect idea, too. I would think there’d be plenty of Saturday and Sunday afternoons when it would be impossible to find a table in a good grill room after 18 holes.

“The Obici House structure lends itself remarkably well to this proposed use,” the proposal said. “The large existing kitchen, open and flowing floor plan and the access to the outside with the unspoiled views are perfect for an upscale dining destination and experience.”

Not to add more onto what the Citizens for the Preservation of Obici House have on their plate, but the restaurant, along with restoring the house inside and out, can also be an excellent way to honor the history of the house, the Obici family and the Obicis’ place in Suffolk’s history.

The project is an ideal use for a part of Suffolk that can once again be a scenic symbol of the city. And financially, it can be good for both Sleepy Hole and Suffolk as a whole.