Plan for Beaufort Downtown Marina weeks away

emoody@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 2, 2014 

The first public glimpse of developers' plans for the Beaufort Downtown Marina parking lot is still several weeks away.

Jim Chaffin of Historic Marina Partners LLC said he and partner Steve Navarro are still working on the written plan that will be presented to residents, business owners and city officials.

After gathering comments on the plan, a final proposal will be presented for City Council approval. That final proposal is not due until May, according to an agreement the developers signed with council and the city's Redevelopment Commission.

Chaffin estimated the developers need another three weeks before the draft is ready for unveiling and would not offer details Friday. However, he said the plan would reflect a "balance between residential and hospitality and retail-commercial."

"I don't want to get too specific, but it really is a mixed use," he said. "It will be a gathering place for residents and visitors, a place where visitors and friends will meet for a rocking-chair chat, ... dinner at restaurants or maritime activities at the marina."

The development's size and the amount of open space it includes will be determined as the developers start working closely with planners and architects, Chaffin said.

Historic Marina Partners is interviewing architects and planners, who should be hired or in the final interviews by the time the written plan is ready, Chaffin said.

The agreement between city officials and the developer outlines how the property would be transferred, either by lease or sale, after a plan is approved.

It also calls for rezoning the lot. That process has started, but the Metropolitan Planning Commission voted not to recommend rezoning. Members said that action was premature until a plan is ready.

City Council will have a public hearing about the rezoning Feb. 25, according to city planner Libby Anderson. Freedom Mall, which has restrictions on it from previous owner Beaufort County Open Land Trust, has been removed from the list of properties to be rezoned after residents objected.

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