Two homes in Bluffton's Wharf Street redevelopment have sold, and town officials say another closing is scheduled for next month.
That leaves just three unsold homes in the $1.2-million affordable-housing project, which was mostly paid for with federal stimulus money. Proceeds from the sales will fund future town housing projects.
Mayor Lisa Sulka, like other town officials, faced criticism as the Old Town properties sat empty for almost nine months. She called the recent progress "wonderful."
"I just hate that people were so critical of it and didn't have the faith that we could see it through," she said this week. "It's really, really hard to work with a federal stimulus grant or any kind of grant. ... It just took time."
The project still has its detractors.
Bill Roe, an Old Town resident and principal of Hilton Head Asset Management, called the development "an ill-conceived program."
"Private business could have done the whole deal a lot better -- at a lower price and in a much shorter period of time," he said. "They got into something never should have gotten into, and it's been proven by the delays and price drops and restrictions."
Beaufort County's property database shows the two-bedroom home at 12 Robertson St. sold for $92,000 on Nov. 7. The buyer, who already has moved in, did not respond to requests for an interview.
A three-bedroom home at 11 Robertson St. sold Nov. 27, and a three-bedroom at 51 Wharf St. is under contract and scheduled to close Dec. 18, according to Bluffton senior planner Danny Wilson. The unsold homes are a one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom.
Town manager Anthony Barrett and assistant town manager Marc Orlando would not disclose the sale price for the house at 11 Robertson or the agreed-upon price for 51 Wharf. That information was not available on the county's property records database.
Barrett said a reporter would need to wait until the Affordable Housing Committee meets Tuesday for that information.
"It is not that it is a secret; it is that the committee has worked hard on this project, and the committee should be presented this information first," Barrett said in an email.
The town says 68 people have applied to buy the homes, although most have withdrawn from the mandatory approval process, which includes background checks, credit checks and a first-time homebuyer course. Applicants also must secure mortgage pre-approval.
Household income also affects eligibility. A single person's income cannot exceed $39,100 a year to qualify, and a family of six cannot earn more than $64,800.
Despite challenges, Wilson and other town officials believe the project is a success.
"Now that construction is complete and homes are being sold, it is clear that the original goals that were established by Town Council and the (federal) grant have been met," he said.
- Bluffton mayor: Pick Wharf Street applicants quickly, Oct. 2, 2012
- Bluffton would be required to rent unsold homes in Wharf Street project, Sept. 11, 2012
- Bluffton estimates sale-price ranges for Wharf Street homes, Aug. 8, 2012
- Few applicants for Bluffton's affordable Wharf Street homes, Aug. 5, 2012
- Bluffton affordable houses nearly done, but home ownership still months away, March 7, 2012