A giant residential and commercial development planned for Hardeeville has the potential to bring in more than 20,000 new residents — more than quadrupling the city’s current population.
The city announced earlier this week preliminary details for the new East Argent community, a project expected to break ground next year on a roughly 7,300-acre plot west of Argent Boulevard and north of U.S. 278, near the northern section of Sun City’s age-restricted community.
The project would be the largest planned development in Hardeeville’s history, according to a city news release.
Plans for project, which will be overseen by Atlanta-based developer Argent Land Holdings LLC, include the construction of 9,500 homes and apartments, as well as 1.5 million square feet of retail and office space, the release said. Specific details about what kind of businesses may be built as part of the project have yet to be determined.
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If all of the proposed homes are built, the population of the city would balloon from about 5,800 residents to more than 25,000, Hardeeville city manager Michael Czymbor said Wednesday.
“We are thrilled, but it’s hard to wrap your head around the scope of this project sometimes,” he said. “Based on today’s population, we would essentially be doubling the size of (Jasper) County.”
Hardeeville mayor Harry Williams said Wednesday the full build-out of the project is tentatively expected by 2040.
“I think (the East Argent development) is going to be an important element for the labor force that will be coming here as the port comes online,” he said.
City leaders expect many of these new residents to be drawn by the Jasper Ocean Terminal, a $4.5 billion port project planned for an area of Jasper County near the mouth of the Savannah River. The port is expected to be operational by around 2025.
Williams said he expects the port to bring as many as 1 million new jobs to the region.
East Argent is expected to include a mix of housing types including single family homes, age-restricted neighborhoods, multifamily apartment communities and workforce housing.
Jeff Coggin with Argent Land Holdings LLC told members of Hardeeville’s Planning Commission last week that the first roughly 100 homes could be complete by early 2019.
Once residents start moving in, commercial construction will ramp up, he said.
“You’ve got to have rooftops before you (start) commercial development,” Coggin told commission members.
The area of Hardeeville along U.S. 278 is rapidly becoming a hotbed for new growth.
On the other side of the highway from the planned East Argent site is the future home of Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head, a Jimmy Buffett-themed retirement community.
That project, expected to break ground in early 2018, will include about 3,000 homes and a 290,000-square-foot retail center.
“It’s going to be a major population center throughout that (U.S. 278) corridor,” Williams said.
New development is “going to impact traffic; it’s going to impact schools,” he said. “This is something we have to plan for very carefully.”
All of this growth will require substantial investment in new infrastructure, such as roads and emergency services.
“There was a lot of good faith negotiations (with the developer) over the past months to make sure the burden (of funding infrastructure) won’t be on the shoulders of the existing taxpayers,” Czymbor said.
The city expects the East Argent project to generate more than $100 million in fees to be used for infrastructure improvements. At full build-out, the new residents and businesses are anticipated to boost the total taxable value of property in Hardeeville by more than $3 billion, Czymbor said.
The Hardeeville City Council is expected to finalize the development agreement between the city and Argent Land Holdings LLC next month. Individual phases of development will go back before the council, which will be responsible for approving specific elements of the project prior to construction.