- The Washington Times - Monday, May 29, 2006

OYSTER, Va. (AP) — A former U.S. Coast Guard station, moved by its owner from a barrier island to the town of Oyster in 1998, is for sale.

The asking price: $5 million.

The Nature Conservancy, an international environmental group, owns a 32-acre tract that includes the seven-bedroom structure. The property is zoned residential and protected by strict conservation restrictions.

“We’d like to see a buyer who’s interested in preserving the history and respecting the environment while enjoying the value of such a beautiful place,” says Steve Parker, director of the Nature Conservancy’s operations on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

The conservancy spent about $3 million renovating, restoring and floating Cobb Island Station to Oyster. The expenditure was criticized as excessive and unwise by auditors several years ago, when the press scrutinized the organization’s spending practices.

In the aftermath, the conservancy pledged to reform how it buys and sells properties. The organization also agreed to release several assets of questionable use, including Cobb Island Station.

The money generated from the sale will be funneled into Eastern Shore conservancy programs, such as acquiring sensitive lands under pressure from development, Mr. Parker said.

The lookout station was built in 1936 on Cobb Island, seven miles east of its current location on the deep-water harbor in Oyster.

It was decommissioned by the Coast Guard in 1964, and the conservancy took ownership when it bought the barrier island in 1973.

The conservancy has hired real estate agent Bill Parr of Cheriton to sell the landmark.

It also has contracted with a Boston-based consultant to target prospective East Coast buyers, Mr. Parker said.

A for-sale ad appeared last week in the Wall Street Journal, and similar ads will run in media markets in Hampton Roads, Richmond and elsewhere on the Atlantic Coast, Mr. Parker said.

The conservancy has leased the station to the World Healing Institute since 2004.

The lease is set to expire tomorrow, which is another reason the conservancy decided to sell the property now, Mr. Parker said.

Originally, the conservancy moved the station to Oyster in league with a private partner who had hoped to convert the structure into a bed-and-breakfast inn. That endeavor failed.

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