Beaufort seeks developer interest to spur economic development at Marina site

Working to accelerate development of the west end of Beaufort’s historic downtown, the city of Beaufort is soliciting letters of interest from developers for the redevelopment of four acres at the Downtown Marina parking lot site.

Deadline for developers to submit their letters of interest and qualifications is June 14, 2013. The Redevelopment Commission will evaluate responses with the intent of selecting one or more developers to further discuss a potential project, Beaufort Redevelopment Commission Chairman Jon Verity said.

“Any development on the site will appear as an extension of Beaufort’s historic downtown, and it will preserve and enhance the scenic vista. Think how beautiful the site can be with less parking lot in view, more public green space, buildings that are in keeping with Beaufort and possible water-related businesses,” Verity said.

“This is a real opportunity to jumpstart economic activity and growth at that end of our core commercial area,” he said.

The land is between Bay Street and the Beaufort River, and adjacent to the City-owned Downtown Marina, two public parks — Freedom Park and the recently renovated Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park — and the downtown shopping and entertainment district.

The site is three parcels, totaling about four acres, and currently is used primarily for public parking and passive green space. There are a few small structures on the site that house rest rooms, retail and office space for the marina, and kiosk activities for horse and carriage tours.

The Beaufort Civic Master plan envisions a mixed-use redevelopment of the site as an exciting addition to Beaufort’s popular Waterfront Park, Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said.  “The city intends to grow the downtown as a vibrant and economically prosperous district,” Keyserling said. Conceptual illustrations suggest buildings in a traditional Lowcountry design consistent with the National Historic Landmark District.

Recommended uses for the site include retail, residential and hospitality, as well as recreational and tourism-related activities such as paddle sports/rowing craft storage and rental and operational functions of the marina.

“Studies show that developing the site can potentially deliver above-average economic returns to the City,” Keyserling said. “We hope that any new businesses will create good-paying jobs.  Both of these are important to the continued growth and success of our wonderful town.”

The actual build-out of the project site will be determined by the market and development goals, the mayor noted. The Request for Letters of Interest seeks a project that will blend comfortably within the historic district and the Waterfront Park. A successful project will also retain or expand public access to the waterway.

Much of the property up for redevelopment is used as public parking. Any plans for construction on the site likely will connect with possible construction of alternate parking facilities, city leaders said. “Our interest is enhancing downtown and enhancing the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, and making the most of what we have. Research indicates the marina parking lot is one of the most highly-sought locations for development, and yet we do nothing but park cars there,” Verity said.

“Everything we do will follow the normal processes for development review, historic review board oversight, permitting, and so on. We anticipate a great deal of public interest and public involvement in this process. We believe this project will be an exciting addition to our downtown.”

The Request for Letters of Interest and related documents are available at, or call City Hall at 843-525-7000.