Take a quick virtual tour through Hilton Head’s new ‘dorm-style’ workforce housing
A new apartment building opened Wednesday on Hilton Head, and it’s specifically geared toward the workforce.
How will it do that?
The dorm-like building has two five-bedroom units and one 10-bedroom unit with private bathrooms and communal living spaces.
“It was really our focus to make sure they are comfortable and have their own space,” Lee Lucier of the Richardson group said of the building. “We wanted to make sure they have larger kitchens and private baths rather than focusing only on bedroom size.”
The building was vacant for five years before being developed for the apartments — a hot topic among town officials and one of the recommendations of the recently-completed workforce housing study.
“Adaptive reuse is an important workforce housing strategy because it makes use of existing structures and places on the island where there is existing development, often well-connected to jobs, services and transportation,” the report by Lisa Sturtevant and Associates said.
Park Lane apartments have already been rented under a master lease with a nearby employer, Lucier said.
The terms of the master lease, including what the new tenants will pay in rent, has not been released.
Although the Richardson Group is most well-known for its development of Coligny Plaza, its recent projects have been slowly spreading out along Hilton Head and U.S. 278.
“It was important to us to find buildings that will minimize the traffic footprint on the island,” Lucier said.
In October, the group announced eight new studio apartments on Lagoon Road in the former Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office building. Those apartments share the building with the newest performance venue of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra.
Workforce housing on Hilton Head
The new development, although different from single-family apartments developed en masse elsewhere in the county, is a “creative” approach to housing, according to local leaders on housing.
“It’s a good use of a building that was no longer commercially needed or viable,” David Ames, chairman of the public planning committee, said on Thursday.
Ames’ committee oversaw the release of the workforce housing report in April.
Lucier said that although the units don’t directly address young workers coming to the island with families, the employees who move into the dorm-style development will be leaving other accommodations on Hilton Head.
“They were already living on the island, so they are freeing up space somewhere else,” he said.
Ames said the development is reminiscent of the ‘70s when interns or summer workers on the island lived together in groups. But it doesn’t address the whole working population.
“I think, yes, it is a portion of the economic picture, but it doesn’t solve the problem of permanent residential living for our workforce,” he said.
Lucier echoed that.
“Our goal was creating housing out of unused inventory,” he said Thursday. “This is a drop in the bucket, but at least there’s some water in it now.”