Reality has pulled into the station at the former Beaufort Depot.
Plans to convert the building to a commercial use that would serve the Spanish Moss Trail were put on hold Tuesday during a City Council work session.
The store envisioned there by the Redevelopment Commission and city planners -- not a bad idea on its face -- was getting no traction with the private sector, where banks apparently weren't eager to finance renovations of a building that would remain public property and might one day be used to serve a railroad again.
This reaction was predictable, if not predicted.
True, the possibility that the depot again becomes a whistle-stop is fairly remote, given that the tracks once leading to the now shuttered Port of Port Royal have been yanked up. But any uncertainty about future ownership is not good for investment. The inability to find a suitable tenant is a reminder that while planners might be comfortable coming up with uses for private capital, those who possess it sometimes don't agree.
That doesn't mean the depot won't be renovated. All sorts of grants -- public or private -- might pay for such work, and the possibility of salvaging a building with some historical significance seems worthy.
But that leaves unresolved what the building will be used for if and when it is fixed up. We have no prescription of our own, but we recommend listening to the depot's neighbors.
Kathy Lindsay, president of the Hermitage Road Area Neighborhood Association, urged officials to honor an agreement to include residents in any renovation plans that exceed basic stabilization of the depot.
Lindsay called that "a good-neighbor" thing to do, and we agree.
Those rightly enthusiastic about the trail's development must recognize that if they are successful in creating a popular amenity, they will be altering traffic and parking patterns and inviting people into these neighborhoods. The folks along the route -- particularly those near trail heads, where foot, bike and vehicle traffic figures to be heaviest -- should be accommodated whenever possible, assuming there is consensus among them.
And when they cannot be accommodated, they should at least be informed.
Angry neighbors also dampen enthusiasm for an investment.