A vote on a proposal to build a 60,000-square-foot grocery store and 12-pump gas station on Lady’s Island has been tabled.
Charlotte-based Barnes Development went before the Beaufort Design Review Board on Thursday to discuss a proposed Harris Teeter, which would include an interior Starbucks, as well as an on-site convenience store and gas station at the intersection of Sams Point Road and Sea Island Parkway. City staff recommended the application be denied, citing concerns that the project didn’t meet standards for the Lady’s Island Village Center District and Civic Master Plan.
“We want to achieve the best thing that is possible, but ... (it’s) not possible to put a traditional suburban model on Lady’s Island,” said project development planner Lauren Kelly. “We want something different to create a (sense of) place in this area.”
City staff noted in a report that the plan called to remove a “significant” number of trees, and suggested an alternative could be to place the building in a similar footprint as the former Publix that used to occupy that site. The grocer moved to a larger location across the street in 2014.
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Kelly noted the site should have a walkable feel and pedestrian-friendly design, as outlined in the Lady’s Island Village Center District.
“I think it’s very important that we have aesthetics we find appealing,” said Jon Verity, chairman of the Beaufort Redevelopment Commission. “We recognize the potential power of having Harris Teeter here. We want to work with them to find a solution that works for them and the community.”
A handful of attendees spoke during the meeting’s public comment portion, citing support for the city’s staff recommendation to deny the application.
“Removing the trees would detract from the (Village Center) vision rather than add to it,” said Kate Parks Schaefer, South Coast Director of the Coastal Conservation League. “A lot of value and consideration needs to be given to the trees on the property now.”
Concerns expressed about the site’s trees echoed sentiments expressed by Lady’s Island residents when Publix originally proposed a store for the site.
“When this property was developed as a Publix, the public really pushed to save the trees,” Kelly said.
She added that some felt the trees spared in that development created a “difficult-to-maneuver parking lot,” but that the village concept should incorporate “natural assets” when possible.
Project developer Ted Barnes said he and Harris Teeter would be willing to review alternatives for the plan and ultimately requested a deferral from the Design Review Board.
“We were challenged the whole time trying to make all the architectural design features that we needed and (also) have a functioning grocery store,” Barnes said. He said grocery stores typically don’t lend themselves to an urban approach, but said there was “some flexibility” to the site plan that could be revisited.
Barnes said Harris Teeter had a deadline, but could not specify when it was.
“There is a time sensitivity with what we’re doing,” Barnes said, adding that Harris Teeter’s lease on the former Publix building has a contingency period. “We’re willing to look at alternatives, but we will have a trigger date.
“We’ll do a little research on (the site’s trees) as we work on other details,” he continued. “We’ll come back with a revised drawing and figure out when we’ll get this done.”
In other action
A plan to construct a hotel at the intersection of Parris Island Gateway and County Shed Road moved a step closer on Thursday.
The Beaufort Design Review Board gave approval with conditions to a 107-room, four-story Hilton Home2 Suites. The project received preliminary approval from the board in November.
Suggested changes given Thursday included adding more windows and reconsidering the location of the hotel’s entrances and on-site dumpsters.
The hotel is expected to be developed this year. Another Home2 Suites is planned for 1 Marina Side Drive on Hilton Head Island.