Hilton Head seeks community input on Coligny redevelopment

dburley@islandpacket.comMarch 28, 2014 

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    The Town of Hilton Head Island will hold a community workshop at 4 p.m. Wednesday to gather public comments about how to redevelop 12 acres in the Coligny area. A USCB campus was rejected for the site last year. The meeting will be before the town Planning Commission at Town Hall, 1 Town Center Court.

For the first time since scrapping a plan to build a University of South Carolina Beaufort campus in the Coligny area, the Town of Hilton Head Island will gather residents' comments about new plans for town-owned property in the busy tourist district.

Preliminary plans for the Coligny area have been scaled back from those proposed late last year. They include a children's museum, a community park and street improvements, including additional parking and green space near Pope Avenue.

Town officials agree those plans are a good starting point, and they'll seek community input Wednesday at a workshop at Town Hall.

Some officials want the town to go further.

"I really don't want just some ho-hum additions," Councilman Lee Edwards said. "I want something spectacular and iconic."

He mentioned potential commercial development at the site -- a hotel, restaurants or shops -- that could accompany the features already planned.

Mayor Drew Laughlin doesn't rule out bringing in businesses to the 12-acre parcel.

At a Town Council meeting March 18, Laughlin said he would object to high-density development.

"I just don't see the need right now to go vertical in terms of structure," he added Wednesday.

Whatever the town decides, it will use money from its tax-increment financing district to pay for the improvements.

The district includes about 1,400 acres, most with commercial zoning, along the south end's Palmetto Bay Road-Pope Avenue corridor, and the north-end's Stoney, Squire Pope, Chaplin and Mathews Drive areas.

Town officials are working on a 10-year extension of the tax district, set to expire in December, according to town manager Steve Riley.

Such an extension would generate $50 million for Coligny and other projects, including the town's plan to put a USCB campus near Office Park Road, Riley said.

A plan to build the campus near Coligny was scrapped in November when nearby residents raised concerns of a potential increase in traffic from students and faculty.

Since then, the plans for the site have been more modest.

"For now, in my view, making it look more attractive and concentrating on the streetscape works for me," Laughlin said.

Follow reporter Dan Burley on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.

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