Bluffton to continue talks on land buy for new town hall, court

gsmith@islandpacket.comMay 14, 2013 

Bluffton Town Council will continue talks next month on buying property for a new town hall and municipal court.

Council members took no action Tuesday on a proposal to buy 11 parcels at Bluffton Village -- just off S.C. 46 between the post office and the Bluffton library -- for about $400,000.

The property could accommodate two, two-story buildings with a collective 40,000 to 50,000 of square feet to serve the town's current and future needs, said James Ayers, Bluffton's director of engineering and public works. The space might include a welcome center or space for the town's small business incubator currently housed in Buckwalter Place, he added.

"It (the land) certainly is appropriate for the intended use," Ayers told council members Tuesday.

Town staff has been looking for a new location for several years. The current Town Hall on Bridge Street is the former H.E. McCracken Middle School and is owned by the Beaufort County School District. It became Town Hall in 1992. The town leases it for a $1 a year.

If council votes to buy the land, the $400,000 could come from its fund balance, said Shirley Freeman, the town's finance director.

As of April 22, the town had 90 days to perform due diligence on the property.

If council approves the purchase, closing would take place within 30 days.

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