After a public outcry last month over development plans deemed unsuitable for a prime Lady’s Island property, developers have returned with a new concept for Whitehall.
A mix of single-family homes, townhouses and condos, an independent living facility and retail buildings are included in the latest concept submitted by developer Sam Levin. The new plans show a greater variety of building types than a previous plan rejected by the public in November.
“We decided to go back to the Civic Master Plan created by the city and follow the guidelines,” said Levin, part of a Whitehall Development Group that includes four developers.
The 19-acre site just across the Beaufort River from downtown would include 16,000-20,000 square feet of commercial space, 80-100 homes and a 100-unit independent living facility. Plans also call for 4.2 acres of open space, including a waterfront park and central green space developers say could be used for public festivals or markets.
Developers say the plans are in keeping for the traditional neighborhood feel, mixed uses and park space recommended for Whitehall in the master plan the city adopted in 2014.
Commercial buildings would mostly front Sea Island Parkway and be designed to support small businesses, according to a description of the project submitted to the city. The commercial area would have a similar design to the Promenade in Bluffton, Levin said, with retail on the ground floor and office space on the upper floors.
“The buildings and streetscape will be designed in the Coastal Vernacular that ties to the History of Beaufort while remaining inspired, innovative and authentic,” wrote Daniel Keefer, of Bluffton landscape architecture firm Witmer Jones Keefer, Ltd.
The Metropolitan Planning Commission, which reviews projects in northern Beaufort County, will consider the subdivision request Feb. 19. An updated traffic analysis and city planning staff report on the updated plans are still pending.
Previous plans brought by Levin and Atlanta development group MidCity Real Estate Partners included seven apartment buildings, the independent living facility and commercial space fronting Sea Island Parkway.
During a November planning committee meeting to consider a requested zoning overlay for the project, area residents spoke in overwhelming opposition to the “uninspired” development and its associated traffic concerns. Representatives of the Sea Island Corridor Coalition and Coastal Conservation League said the plans didn’t reflect numerous past public planning efforts.
“I think this new plan is an improvement, and it’s still important to evaluate it in the context of the comprehensive plan and Civic Master Plan, because of the public input and energy that has gone into that planning process,” said Kate Schaefer, south coast director for the Coastal Conservation League.
Key areas to consider will be protecting trees and views, bicycle and pedestrian access and multiple building uses, she said.
The previously requested overlay would have also allowed drive-thru businesses, which Levin said are no longer part of the plans. The uses in the current proposal are allowed by existing zoning, he said.
Levin has developed or proposed several recent projects, including a new assisted living facility set to open near Whitehall on Factory Creek and a new fire station to be built on Robert Smalls Parkway.
The Whitehall development group has the property under contract from Savannah-based First Chatham Bank and will close by May 31, Levin said.