Beaufort historic board OK's plan for 5 homes, smaller lots in Baptist Church land swap

emoody@beaufortgazette.comDecember 21, 2013 

A plan to build four new houses and renovate a historic building in downtown Beaufort once considered for demolition is taking shape.

Two lots -- 811 King St. and one next to it at the corner of King and Scott streets -- would be divided into five lots, according to plans submitted by developer Steve Tully and recommended Friday during a special meeting of the Historic District Review Board.

It's part of a land swap in which the city would take ownership of 811 King St. and gives the church a vacant lot at 905 and 907 Prince St. The church bought 811 King St. in 2005 intending to use the single-family house on it as a ministry center for its outreach program. Later, however, the church found it couldn't afford to restore the building.

The city also will help the church sell the lot neighboring 811 King St. and market it to developers, and the church will receive the profits from the lot sales. The church has contracted with Tully for the development of the block.

The agreement between the church and city to work together was approved by City Council in November.

The lot at 811 King St. will be divided into properties, as historical maps show it once was, city project development planner Lauren Kelly said. The neighboring property would be split into three lots.

"We believe this will have a positive impact on the neighborhood because it will provide a more complete streetscape," she said.

Along with preserving and restoring the existing, 100-plus year old home, four homes of between 1,000 square feet and 1,500 square feet would be built.

Once divided, the lots will be between 3,082 square feet and 3,114 square feet, according to a presentation by Kelly. Not only is that smaller than the 4,000-square-foot minimum for properties in the area, but the minimum width for lots is 40-feet, according to zoning rules. One of the lots, the part of 811 King with the historic building, could be only 32 feet wide.

Tully said he's comfortable building on a lot that size and that there is a market for such properties.

Redevelopment Commission member Wendy Zara and Historic Beaufort Foundation executive director Maxine Lutz both supported the plan.

Neighbor Ray Stocks questioned the sizes of the proposed lots but ultimately told the review board he was satisfied with the direction the plans are going.

Kelly and Stocks also wanted to make sure an old live oak and other trees would be spared, if possible. The oak will be preserved, Tully said. Other trees are less likely to remain.

The review board only addressed the buildings and the lot sizes and locations Friday. Any designs and renovations would need to be proposed separately, Kelly said.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

Related content:

Preservationists, Baptist Church of Beaufort at odds over house, Aug. 12, 2012

Redevelopment Commission considers land swap property with Baptist Church of Beaufort, Aug. 1, 2013 Developer eyes opportunities on 3 blocks in downtown Beaufort, Oct. 12, 2013

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