The former home to Old Town Bluffton’s landmark Eggs ‘N’ Tricities shop could soon be demolished as part of an effort to redevelop the corner of Calhoun and Bridge streets.
Bluffton’s Town Council paved the way for that process to move forward Tuesday by voting unanimously to remove the 65-year-old concrete building at 71 Calhoun St. — which once served as a convenience store, then a gas station, and most recently the popular retail establishment — from a list of structures officially recognized as contributing to Bluffton’s history.
The former Eggs ‘N’ Tricities building was added to the town’s list of historically significant buildings in 2008 because of its “adaptive reuse” over the decades, town growth management director Heather Colin said Tuesday.
But since the Eggs ‘N’ Tricities relocated to Lawton Street last year, the vacant Calhoun Street building “no longer has the qualities that made it eligible” to be listed as a historically contributing structure, she said.
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While no specific redevelopment plans have been presented to the council, Roberts Vaux — an attorney representing the property’s ownership group, the Helen P. Messex Revocable Trust — said Tuesday that he would “eventually ask (the council) for a demolition permit” to raze the building at 71 Calhoun St.
In addition to providing a clean slate for redevelopment, demolishing the building will allow for the removal of decades-old fuel tanks buried “partially under the front facade of the building,” he said.
When ideas for the redevelopment project were floated early this year, members of the public and the town’s Historic Preservation Commission balked at the idea of demolishing the building.
But last month, the commission considered a request to remove the building from Bluffton’s survey of historically significant structures and determined that it doesn’t meet the requirements established by state law and town code.
An August letter from the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society to the Bluffton planning staff indicates that the society “is not opposed to the building being removed from the (historically) contributing structure list,” town documents show.
While removing the building from the list doesn’t automatically ensure town officials will approve a demolition permit or future development plans for the parcel of land, it likely will make that approval process smoother for the property owner.
Bluffton’s Historic Preservation Commission still will have to sign off on “any modifications or changes to the building, and that includes demolition,” Colin said.
But by removing it from the contributing structures list, the developer can avoid the hurdle of “an additional set of review criteria” required to demolish historically significant buildings, she said.