Visitors to Old Town Bluffton could soon have an easier time finding a space to park in the heart of the bustling historic district.
“That property could be used for additional parking in the historic district” both on the interior of the parcel and along the roads that border it, town manager Marc Orlando said Tuesday.
The property is large enough to accommodate the “addition of as many as 26 public parking spaces,” according to town documents.
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Finding “additional parking solutions” has been a priority for town leaders in recent years, Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka said Tuesday.
In addition to the potential for new spots at the Boundary Street property, the town recently added 55 public spaces on Calhoun Street through a partnership with Cornerstone Church, which owns a parking lot there.
There are also plans to add roughly 75 public spaces on Dr. Mellichamp Drive.
The land purchase approved Tuesday also allows the town to “expand some open space in the historic district” by possibly adding a new passive park right next to the popular DuBois Park, Orlando said.
Bluffton’s master plan for Old Town places emphasis on “preserving green space, reducing density, and exploring parking additions.”
By “preserving open space,” the land purchase also helps reduce future development near the ecologically sensitive May River, according to town documents.
The property, owned by Marsh Rentals LLC and marketed by Rachael Cram of Bluffton Realty, is currently home to two cottages and a triplex.
“We’ve done all the due diligence — taken a look at the site — and all the folks who were renting those structures have vacated,” Orlando said. “... Everything is in great order.”
The buildings, which are not recognized as historically significant to the Old Town area, will be “removed and carted away” to make room for the new parking area and green space, he said.
The town plans to close on the property next week for a total purchase price of $1,095,00.
But it remains unclear when the new parking spaces could be added or the current structures removed.
In other council action
During Tuesday’s special meeting, the Bluffton Town Council approved a measure to seek $25,000 in state grant funding to be used by the Don Ryan Center for Innovation for marketing, as well as to potentially add educational and business development programs.