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Several tenants confirmed for final stages of Bluffton Promenade development

The Promenade in Bluffton as seen on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015.
The Promenade in Bluffton as seen on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015. Staff photo

After 10-plus years, the final phases of development in the Calhoun Street Promenade are in sight.

Confirmed tenants at yet-to-be constructed buildings in the Old Town Bluffton/ development include offices, a bike rental shop, a golf cart retailer and an emporium. Some of the remaining lots face Bluffton Road and some are in the back of the center, near Dr. Mellichamp Drive.

Jerry Glenn, the former owner of The Cinnamon Bear on Hilton Head Island, confirmed he will be occupying a spot in the Promenade, with a shop similar to his original country store. He currently helps operate Legends Sports Gallery on Hilton Head with his daughter, Lori, who owns the store.

"It's going to be a bit of an expansion," Glenn said. Inventory at the new Promenade store will include original dog and cat artwork, gourmet food, sports items and "unusual gifts," he said.

Glenn said he hopes to open his Bluffton store by Feb. 1, the same projected opening date for Jim Buser’s new Promenade store, a combination bike shop and “adventure store.”

"We're going to try to take advantage of being so close to the water," said Buser, who also owns Sports Addiction in Bluffton.

In addition to bike rentals and repairs, Buser intends to rent out kayaks and paddleboards at the shop, the Promenade Bike Barn and Adventure Store. He said he also received his captain's license, which allows him to do boat tours on the May River.

Mike Vaccaro, managing partner at Ludtke & Vaccaro Architects, has been the architectural design consultant for the Promenade since 2010. He is spearheading the design for buildings planned near Dr. Mellichamp Drive.

"The original plan was for one big building," Vaccaro said, but constructing several smaller structures ultimately made more sense for the center.

His architectual office will move into one of the buildings. Vaccaro said three structures are planned on Dr. Mellichamp Drive and two or three will be placed inside the center, near The Midnight Baker bistro.

Vaccaro can remember his early Promenade projects, and said the construction of The Bluffton Room and its upper-floor apartments in 2014 "upped the ante" for the center and its design.

"A lot of the buildings were traditional," he said. "Now we're noticing higher quality projects" are in demand.

MIXED-USE A PROVEN SUCCESS

When Randolph Stewart was appointed urban designer of the Promenade about 10 years ago, "mixed-use" was a new concept for Bluffton.

"Zoning then was largely commercial," Stewart said. "Mixed-use wasn't something the town knew about."

Stewart said typically, successful mixed-use centers are on 20- or 30-acre lots, making the Promenade's 8-acre space unusual for that type of development.

"Usually, food and beverage take over," he said, but the Promenade has attracted retail shops and offices in addition to restaurants.

After slow development during the Great Recession, the Promenade has had a building and leasing boom within the past few years.

"Even before the sticks are in the ground, (the buildings) are leased," said Rep. Bill Herbkersman, a developer in the center.

Stewart is designing a mixed-use building planned for the corner of Bluffton Road and State of Mind Street. Several lots, including Stewart's project, on Bluffton Road are on the brink of being developed -- the designer is meeting with the town Historic Preservation Commission today to seek a certificate of appropriateness.

The project, at 200 Bluffton Road, is a 4,206-square-foot building with retail on the first floor and condos on the second and third floors, Stewart said. The lot's owner, who also owns Three D Golf Car on Burnt Church Road, has plans to make the first floor a golf cart showroom, he said.

The goal is to have all plans approved before the end of the year, Stewart said.

Additionally, a two-story commercial building, at 212 Bluffton Road, of approximately 2,080 square feet is set to be discussed at a Historic Preservation Review Committee meeting next week.

"You see so much going on right now," Stewart said.

Moving forward, Stewart said the town needs to focus on combining the "Old Town with the new town," as Bluffton's population continues to grow and larger-scale buildings are constructed.

And in Vaccaro's opinion, mixed-use will only continue in surrounding Old Town developments.

"I sit at my office and I see people walking, buying," he said. "I see life in this part of town."

Follow reporter Ashley Fahey on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Ashley.

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