Redevelopment Commission to meet with four developers about Beaufort Downtown Marina

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJuly 11, 2013 

  • Going into a closed-door session to review a proposed contract, but decided against it because the public hadn't been notified.

  • Progress on the Lafayette Street housing project, which is moving forward "slowly," chairman Jon Verity said. Commissioner Wendy Zara wants the houses priced with some "sensitivity" so working families could afford them.

  • Progress on the housing task force and funding opportunities along with the possible need to hire an executive director for the Redevelopment Commission.

  • Progress on the Civic Master Plan review process. The Office of Civic Investment is updating the plan so it can be presented to the public for one final review before it goes to City Council. It's not clear when the plan will go to the council, but Verity said the public will have "several weeks" to review it beforehand.

Beaufort's Redevelopment Commission will meet within the next week with four of the five developers who have expressed interest in building on the Beaufort Downtown Marina parking lot.

Who the developers are and what they want to do there remains unknown. Their names and "visions" won't be made public until the commission chooses the developer it prefers, chairman Jon Verity said Thursday.

City officials say the meetings are part of possible contractual negotiations, and therefore don't have to be disclosed to the public.

The companies are based in Charleston and Savannah and in between, Verity said. Some of them described their ideas in letters sent to the commission, while others simply said they would discuss them during the upcoming meetings.

Verity said a committee of four commissioners will meet with the four developers by the end of next week.

Councilman and commissioner Mike McFee said the meetings are not interviews, but fact-finding missions.

Marina committee chairman Alan Dechovitz said the panel wants to know whether the developers' visions are consistent with the city's desires for downtown.

Verity said after Thursday's commission meeting that residents might become confused if the companies' visions were made public prematurely. It will be better to let the commission choose the best developer, then have its vision presented, he said. Verity also said he wants developers to come up with their visions independent of one another.

An exact plan -- with drawings and details -- won't be created until a process begins that involves the public, Verity said. The process will allow residents to make suggestions to the developer, he said. The public should be involved and residents' ideas will be included in the final plan, he said.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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