A Beaufort County Council board gave its blessing Monday to one of the several proposed developments that could transform the area of greater Bluffton just west of the bridges to Hilton Head Island.
The owners of the Executive Golf Club, a defunct par-3 course near the Bluffton Parkway flyover and between Tanger Outlet Center 2 and Hilton Head National Golf Club, are asking Beaufort County to allow them to turn the overgrown greens and fairways into a new commercial and residential development.
Preliminary plans for the roughly 21-acre property include 125 new residential units, two commercial spaces totaling about 20,000 square feet, and a 120-room hotel.
The county’s Natural Resources Committee unanimously recommended a zoning and land use change Monday that moves the project closer to the pin.
The current zoning of the property, which allows for mainly rural and open space uses such as a golf course, is “completely incompatible” with the growing commercial and residential corridor along Bluffton Parkway, county planning director Tony Criscitello said.
Contrarily, the proposal from property owner Silver Rock BP, LLC “is (a) completely fitting” mix of commercial and residential development for the area, he said.
Councilwoman Cynthia Bensch said, “We want walkable, village-type communities ... and that’s the kind of thing (the developers) want to do.”
But county officials and staffers are stressing the importance of coordination with nearby properties to minimize traffic and other impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods.
The owners of adjacent Hilton Head National Golf Club, which is more than 10 times the size of the Executive Golf Club, are also seeking permission to redevelop their property.
That project — which was recently tabled until November to allow the Planning Commission and property owner more time to consider the proposal — could include the construction of up to 700,000 square feet of retail space, 400 apartments, 500 single-family homes, an assisted-living facility, a 125,000-square-foot convention center and a 1,500-seat performing arts center on a 300-acre parcel of land.
The massive project also would require significant infrastructure improvements such as a new public school, a fire and police substation, and major expansions to the transportation network, county documents show.
Criscitello said the same traffic engineers are working with the developers of both proposed golf course projects and a fresh traffic analysis will need to be completed and approved by the council during the development plan review process before any shovels hit the dirt.
Councilman Gerald Dawson said he thinks the redeveloped Executive Golf Club “fits into the surrounding properties.”
But, “the overriding concern is the traffic impact,” he said. “We just have to be cognizant of that as we move forward.”