The owner of Hilton Head National Golf Club in greater Bluffton is seeking a zoning change that would allow housing, hotels and commercial development on land that is now an 18-hole golf course.
Plans for the 310-acre parcel haven't been created, but representatives for owner Scratch Golf LLC envision the property as a mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly place that could one day include entertainment, shopping, offices and homes.
"We are looking at this as a total pedestrian city, as a hub, where the pedestrian overtakes the vehicle itself," Michael Kronimus, of KRA architecture + design, told the Beaufort County Planning Commission on Thursday.
Commissioners took no votes on the plan, which came before them for an informal review because the zoning application is not yet complete. There also was no discussion.
The commission is expected to begin reviewing the plan at its June meeting.
Developers want the property rezoned to regional commercial but ultimately plan to create a planned unit development that combines attributes of commercial and urban zoning. Based on those standards, the land could accommodate dozens of uses, including hotels, office buildings, conference centers and water parks. Retail and housing also can be built under such zoning.
The land, at the intersection of Bluffton Parkway and Malphrus Road, currently is a mix of rural, commercial and transitional zoning. Kronimus called the existing rural zoning on the land "inconsistent" with surrounding properties.
Scratch Golf has no intention of developing the site, according David Strong, who represents the property owner. The goal is to get the new zoning approved so the owner can sell it to a developer.
Hilton Head National was built in 1993 and once included 27 holes. The course was trimmed to 18 holes to allow construction of the Bluffton Parkway.
Kronimus says it will probably take 15 to 20 years to fully develop the site, which has frontage on U.S. 278, the parkway and Malphrus Road. For that reason, the PUD makes sense because it will keep development options open.
In a letter to county officials, he said the site could one day include 2 million square feet of commercial space, 750 hotel rooms and 500 housing units.
"This is the last, largest piece in Beaufort County, close to Hilton Head and actually developable, on U.S. 278," he said Thursday, describing the land as a "prime location."
Strong, the owner's representative, said the sheer size of the parcel means it won't be limited to a single use such as all housing or all commercial. He said it could one day resemble Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head Island, which combines housing, retail and recreational uses.
"I think it will be a game changer ... in southern Beaufort County," Strong said.