Trask parking lot sale closes; 303 Associates moves ahead with renovation, development plans

emoody@beaufortgazette.comDecember 18, 2013 

STAFF GRAPHIC

The $2.9-million sale of the downtown Beaufort property known as the Trask parking lot closed Tuesday, and new owner 303 Associates is moving ahead with a multi-block redevelopment project.

The property, originally listed at $3.4 million, covers most of the block bounded by Port Republic, Charles, Craven and West streets and was owned by the estates of Flora Trask and Martha Tucker.

John Trask III, grandson of Flora Trask and one of the owners of Lowcountry Real Estate, which handled the sale, said he is excited to see what 303 Associates principal Dick Stewart does with the property.

"I think Dick Stewart is the perfect buyer for that piece of property because he has a vision, and this is a piece of that puzzle he can insert in that vision and help continue the successful growth of Beaufort," Trask said.

The deal has been in works for months, and the city's Historic District Review Board began looking at conceptual development plans in October.

Stewart said additional planning was delayed until the sale closed, but as of Wednesday, architects and engineers were back at the drawing board.

"We will be moving forward with our plans posthaste," he said.

Those plans do not, however, include a parking garage on the Trask lot, which has been discussed for years and is shown on the city's Master Civic Plan.

"I have no plans to build a parking structure," Stewart said. "We are purchasing this parking because we have previously been discouraged from building parking on our property across the street."

Plans include renovation of the former Piggly Wiggly grocery store and two buildings on property 303 Associates already owns. The company would construct more than a dozen residential cottages, buildings and facilities for the Beaufort Inn, which the company also owns, according to the October conceptual plans.

Between $300,000 and $400,000 in renovations are planned for the former Piggly Wiggly, which Stewart intends to open as event space by May.

The renovations include a new entry to "complement the existing one," installation of a large window on the east side, new restrooms, a kitchen area, additional storage and removal of several parking spaces and sidewalk to create a garden courtyard.

The building will have room for as many as 300 people to eat dinner, but can also be adapted for use by groups as small as 25, Stewart said.

That event space, along with the parking area 303 Associates will keep on the remainder of the property, will be tied to the Beaufort Inn across West Street. On that block, conceptual plans are to build seven buildings on the north and west sides. One of the three existing buildings on those sides would be torn down. A building at the corner would likely contain restaurant and commercial space, and the other structures would be residential, the plan says.

Across West Street from the inn, the conceptual plan calls for the demolition of the Coastal Art Supply building at 812 Port Republic St. and developing that property and a parking lot along Scott Street into about 10 townhouses.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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