VIRGINIA BEACH – Down county, past Pungo, beyond the Military Aviation Museum, on the west side of Princess Anne Road sits a structure that for many years has been a mystery, bewildering locals and visitors alike as they passed by, sitting unfinished, unexplained, and puzzling.
A big, stately house, at first glance so close to complete, but left inexplicably… undone.
The perplexing house, for which a permit was first issued back in 1987, won’t be a roadside attraction much longer: After some three decades it was put on the market and has been purchased.
In partnership with a private investor, Bryan Hietpas, owner of Virginia Coastal Homes and Remodeling, has purchased the property and is ready to start turning the unfinished house into a home.
“My daughter saw it on Facebook when Herb Culpepper, a Realtor in Pungo, posted it,” said Hietpas, who has been building homes since 1990. “She said ‘dad, you really need to take a look at this.”
Hietpas has lived on the south side of Virginia Beach for more than 30 years and is just one of many people who can recall driving past the house in its earliest days, when the chimneys — of which there are four imposing ones and a smaller one — were the first things to go up.
“It always intrigued me,” he said, recalling overhearing locals have many conversations about the enigmatic structure.
Getting inside for a look around before writing up a contract (of which six were quickly written) wasn’t easy though. Access was limited to the outside.
But the partnership submitted a bid anyway and was selected.
“I think they wanted to sell to a local builder,” Hietpas said.
And once he did get inside, it wasn’t nearly as bad as he had envisioned.
The house is traditional old-school Williamsburg-style architecture, “made to look old,” he said, adding he has the original plans/blueprints. Sitting on one acre of land, it was intended to be 3,980 square feet — a few changes in the new plans will increase that to 4,500 square feet.
Inside it was basically just framed in – providing a clean slate so to speak. There is no drywall and very little electrical or plumbing, which Hietpas said will actually make the renovation work easier. A new roof has already been added, with the old roofing and plywood removed and replaced.
Hietpas said he hopes to have the project completed by May –- but Mother Nature always has a say in that.
Before work progresses too far, the investors are hoping to host a catered open house, or perhaps even two, so locals can get a closer look at the structure they’ve speculated about for decades.
Kevin West is with Citizens & Farmers Mortgage and hopes to help find a buyer. He’s also a Pungo native who is excited about the project and recalls passing by the structure for the past 28 years, wondering about the story behind the “local landmark.”
“The open house before construction was something we thought the community would like, because they have always wondered what the inside looked like,” West said. “Since I’m a mortgage loan officer helping to find the final owners, I was able to see the inside and felt like the community would enjoy the same experience.”
Hietpas said interest in the property has indeed been high.
“There’s been a crazy amount of activity on Facebook,” he added.
Virginia Coastal Homes and Remodeling is currently building a home about a mile further down the road, which makes managing the two projects a bit easier for Hietpas.
“I was always very intrigued by it and it’s important for me as a local guy and a local builder to finish that house,” he said.
Hietpas said he expects the house, when finished, to list in the mid-$900,000s.