Coastal Preservation, Updates, Climate Change
June 08 2016

Coos Bay Managed Retreat Success Story

by Charlie Plybon

It’s been nearly 2 years now since the Coos Bay Chapter first began raising concerns to address and support an adaptation strategy for a home, dangling precariously over a bluff at Lighthouse Beach. Fearing a hardened shoreline structure application such as a seawall or rip rap, and the environmental and public safety concerns of the house’s current cliff-dangling situation, appealing to the homeowner’s economic interest in the property was going to be paramount to a positive outcome. Success for the all interested parties began this month when the house was literally picked up and moved 50 feet back from the cliff, accommodating both a sweet remodel to boost the property value as well as protecting the beach and public safety.

Balancing the needs of homeowner and environment can be extremely tricky in these coastal erosion situations -- generally, somebody comes out losing. However, the managed retreat strategy in this case is a fantastic example of how adapting to a changing coastline can be done, meeting both economic and environmental interests.

With the property owner living on the other side of the country (Georgia), the Coos Bay Chapter was going to have to depend on the good work of design company, hired by the property owner about their interest in a remodel. In 2014, Soraci Designs, LLC owner Michael Soraci was hired by the property owner to help come up with solutions to accommodate their interest in developing the property for greater value and remodeling the deteriorated beach house. A lover of the Oregon coast, Michael knew that the only option to truly accommodate the interest of the homeowner and protect the general public, beaches and environment was to move the house.

The client's goal was to update the home with modern conveniences and improve the floor plan with the idea of selling the home once the project was completed. It was agreed that the style of the existing house, in keeping with many historic homes in the area, should be preserved. While moving the house was of highest importance, it also presented some challenges because of the poor soil in the area, issues reconstructing the existing septic system, limiting environmental impact, as well as keeping the project within the client’s budget.

The house is now situated in a safe zone on the site with a new foundation, and as of March 2016 construction is underway on the renovation and expansion of the interior and exterior. On the ocean-facing side, the bedrooms and main living area have been expanded, and a viewing deck will be added along the entire length. On the highway side an existing garage was renovated to provide more living space and a new garage will be added. The new and existing building will be insulated to current code. Additional features of the finished house will include new doors and windows, and updated electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems. A masonry stone veneer will be added around the exterior at ground level, adding a timeless quality to the already historic style of the home. All of these changes create a highly desirable home that meets modern needs for convenience and comfort while successfully relocating the house to a safe place on the property.

"In the end, what was an eyesore and safety hazard will end up being prime real estate on the most beautiful coast I have ever seen," says Michael Soraci, project leader and owner of Soraci Designs. We couldn’t agree more, this marks a milestone victory and superb success story in coastal adaptation strategies for Oregon. See more pictures here