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As major Beaufort road work ends, properties are back to business. Here's what's up.

Traffic on Boundary Street flows past the former location of Applebee's restaurant on Monday. Now that construction on the road improvement project is nearly complete, some empty businesses along the road may be coming back to life.
Traffic on Boundary Street flows past the former location of Applebee's restaurant on Monday. Now that construction on the road improvement project is nearly complete, some empty businesses along the road may be coming back to life. jkarr@islandpacket.com

In the coming weeks, the vacant property previously home to Applebee's on Boundary Street will get a new look.

Brush will be cleared to open marsh views. Trees will be pruned and new lighting installed.

A new entrance will be built to allow access from Boundary Street and another driveway will be added off Pick Pocket Plantation Drive.

And then owner David Burre will begin marketing 2338 Boundary to national restaurant chains not already in Beaufort, he said Monday. Applebee's closed last September, and Burre is looking for similar restaurants serving lunch and dinner.

The two-year Boundary Street road project contributed at least in part to some businesses closing and others moving. As the work nears its end — with utility poles gone, landscaped medians in place and final pavement going down — new businesses are moving in and other properties preparing for new tenants.

"It's reorganizing itself," Burre said of the commercial activity along the city's busiest corridor.

In Beaufort Town Center, where box store Kmart closed last year, several new businesses are moving in to take its place.

RLB Distillery and Hank's Lowcountry She-Crab Soup will join Cracked Egg cafe as new tenants of the KMart building, the property's managers announced this week. Two more yet-to-be-named businesses have agreed to move into the 90,000 square-foot space, said Dick Stewart, whose 303 Associates owns the shopping center.

The distillery will make rum and vodka and could eventually add bourbon, Stewart said.

Architects will reimagine the building's facade. As many as eight businesses could eventually fill the former box store, Stewart said.

Two Mexican restaurants, a carpet wholesaler and a showroom for a company specializing in kitchen and countertops are also making homes in the shopping center.

KMart's departure wasn't related to the road construction, Stewart said. The company was closing stores nationwide and wanted to stay in Beaufort longer, but Stewart said the property's managers had other plans.

Part of the development company's activity stems from the absence of KMart, part is due to is an improving economy and some could be attributed to the road work finally clearing, Stewart said. Utility poles came down on the north side of Boundary Street this month, a major selling point of the $33 million project, and landscaping and lighting are being finalized.

"It's like looking in the mirror after you've been in the dental chair about 24 months," Stewart said.

Beaufort Plaza, which is at the corner of the newly redesigned intersection at Robert Smalls Parkway and Boundary Street, is primed for redevelopment with new businesses.

At the former Applebee's, Burre said he has a list of 30 potential tenants that are national brands not already in Beaufort.

The installation of the concrete median meant potential customers heading east on Boundary Street who missed the turn before Applebee's needed multiple U-turns to return to the business, Burre noted in applying for a city zoning allowance to add the driveways.

The new driveways, plus access from next door Beaufort Plaza and referral traffic from the Hampton Inn hotel behind the building make the property attractive, Burre said.

As road work finishes, he expects Beaufort drivers to return to using Boundary for daily commutes. Hence the new driveways he's adding at his expense in the new few weeks.

"It's an investment in a piece of property that as far as I'm concerned makes a lot of economic sense to me and for the future tenant," he said.

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