Downtown Beaufort parking garage talks continue

emoody@beaufortgazette.comApril 21, 2014 

A company that might build a parking garage in downtown Beaufort continues to discuss its options with city officials.

Jon Verity, chairman of the city's Redevelopment Commission, said he met with representatives from Structured Parking Solutions about a week ago for an update.

"We haven't come to a conclusion on which direction to go ... nevertheless, we're getting the options that we'd like to have," Verity said.

Company representatives visited Beaufort in February to gather input from residents and city officials on the possibility of building a parking garage.

Verity said the company has brought back "a few ideas" for a garage on Port Republic Square. Structured Parking Solutions has an option to buy that part of the block from the Beaufort Inn.

The inn bought most of that block -- bounded by Port Republic, Charles, Craven and West streets -- for $3.4 million in December. It includes a parking lot that the city's Civic Master Plan identifies as an ideal spot for a parking garage.

SPS director of business development Greg Darden said the company's plans will be based on the guidance of city officials.

Two basic options for a 400- to 500-space garage are being considered, Verity said. The first is a two-story garage along Craven Street that would take up the length of the block between West and Charles streets.

The second is a taller building in the middle of the block that would be surrounded by other buildings that could house businesses or residences.

Verity did not have building dimensions or estimated costs Monday, saying it was too early in the process to know.

Any plans for a parking garage would go through the city's public building process and meet the usual requirements, which include a 55-foot height limit.

Dick Stewart, principal of the Beaufort Inn's parent company, 303 Associates, said his company also will get a review of the plans.

Darden said the company is analyzing current and future parking needs.

"There is a perceived parking shortage today, and part of that perception comes from the amount of parking on private properties, not city-owned properties," he said. "... If those (private) properties are developed to their highest use, then there will be a shortage in parking."

Darden said planning for public meetings will likely begin in two to three weeks.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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