Keep eye on local goals to spur redevelopment

newsroom@islandpacket.comFebruary 21, 2014 

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FILE: Shoppers walk toward the parking lot from the Pineland Station shopping center on Hilton Head Island in October 2013.

SARAH WELLIVER — Sarah Welliver Buy Photo

The Town of Hilton Head Island is wise to consider selling 10 acres it holds as open space, if it would lead to an acceptable redevelopment of Pineland Station.

The shopping center was considered to be out in the middle of nowhere when it was built in 1977 on the island's north end. In the early- to mid-1980s, it still had the only supermarket on the north end of the island.

The 130,000-square-foot facility has always been home to some successful, long-lasting businesses as the community grew around it. But the shopping center today has many vacancies and needs a new design, new investment and new life.

The owner is working on ideas to achieve that. One option would apparently work if 10 adjacent acres owned by the town could be purchased.

Mayor Drew Laughlin says the town has no particular need for the land, which is half wetlands.

However, the island does need revitalization and the private capital investment that this proposal represents.

The government should not be in the development business, but it must set the stage for economic development. To do that, the top priority is to keep the beach nourished. And the town needs to stick to its core beliefs -- limited signage, low lights, wooded buffers, muted colors, landscape beautification and tree protection -- as it enters a new generation of land management.

That is how the community will remain distinctive.

The distinction of escaping the ugly is the heart of Hilton Head's economy, and that cannot be sacrificed now.

The town has historically used its land judiciously to help foster a number of community institutions, such as the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic, the public library, the Children's Center and the Boys & Girls Club. It has helped facilitate the recent redevelopment of the dying enclosed mall.

And it can perhaps help the private sector breathe new life into the outdated Pineland Station shopping center. That is a worthwhile goal.

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