Hardeeville took another step toward overhauling much of its downtown Thursday when it adopted a first-year timeline for developing a $230-million, mixed-use community near the intersection of Interstate 95 and U.S. 17.
The timeline, approved unanimously by Hardeeville City Council and detailed at a press conference Friday, sets dates for development-plan submissions and public hearings throughout 2012. Overall, the project is expected to begin in November and take eight years to complete.
The 319-acre community, called Gateway Crossing, is a joint venture between Gateway Crossing Development Partners and the city. It will include homes, businesses and a retirement community.
The city will subsidize its construction in part through a tax increment financing district.
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City manager Bob Nanni said the city has not participated in a TIF district before, but noted such districts are common public finance tools used by many South Carolina municipalities.
Developers are also seeking financial help from Jasper County and the Jasper County School District, both of which would receive revenue from property taxes the development generates.
The development is expected to expand the city's tax base by $100 million, Mayor Bronco Bostick said. The community will also feature 412 rental units and 445 properties for sale.
"As mayor, I was pushing this for seven years, and now it's come to fruition," he said. "This could be the only chance we get to build affordable homes in Hardeeville."
Developers said the units would cost between $80,000 and $160,000.
"The city of Hardeeville will benefit greatly from this project," said Charles Washington of Gateway Crossing Development Partners. "There will be seniors, there will be families, there will be singles -- all with affordable options."
Central to Gateway Crossing's design is a continuing-care retirement community, which will include independent- and assisted-living areas and a 120-bed nursing care facility. It would be the only retirement facility of its kind between Savannah and Hilton Head Island, developers said.
Along the east side of U.S. 17, more than 400,000 square feet will be devoted to commercial space, including a full-service grocery store, hotel, bank, pharmacy and restaurants. The retail district will also feature an outdoor stage and seating area, which will host farmers markets, festivals and nighttime movies.
Bike and walking paths will wind through the community, much of which will be heavily wooded and designated a nature preserve.
Plans for the development were unveiled in October. Since then, various preliminary studies have been done on the property, Washington said.
"There has been a lot of engineering work done, cultural studies, market studies, traffic studies, all of the things that are required for public financing," he said. He expects to break ground on the project in mid-November.
"The community would like to see it sooner than later, and we would like to show some movement on-site so the community does know that Gateway is coming," Washington said.