A proposed land swap between the city of Beaufort and the Baptist Church of Beaufort could result in the preservation of a historic home and construction of up to four additional residences downtown.
After extensive meetings with church elders, the Redevelopment Commission is proposing a land swap in which the city takes ownership of 811 King St. and gives the church a vacant lot at 905 and 907 Prince St, commissioner Mike McNally said during the group's monthly meeting Tuesday night.
The city would consider ways to renovate the historic home and build a second home on the lot.
Beaufort would also help the church sell a large lot it owns next to 811 King St. and market it to developers with an eye on building three more homes there. The church would receive the profits from the lot sales, McNally said.
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"We went back and forth," McNally said of the discussions. "It was a real tennis match."
The plan meets the needs of both the city and church, he said.
The church, which owns property on either side of the Prince Street lot, wants to consolidate its holdings and create a master plan.
The city wants to encourage home construction on empty lots downtown.
Church members approved the idea without dissent Sunday, McNally said.
"I think it's extremely important for all of us as commissioners, as we go out and look at projects like this, to listen to property owners and hear the whole story because that helps to put a package like this together," he said.
The church has been at odds with preservationists over the future of 811 King St. since the church bought it in 2005. The original plan was to use it as a ministry center for Operation Good Neighbor, a church outreach program.
Historic Beaufort Foundation wants the house to be preserved and renovated. Multiple renovation and reuse proposals by the church have been denied by the Historic District Review Board.
Seven years ago, renovations were estimated to cost between $300,000 and $400,000. The church paid $230,000 for the property.
McNally said the informal series of meetings he, Mayor Billy Keyserling, city preservation planner Lauren Kelly and church elders held made it possible to come up with the plan.
"I think it's really important that the Redevelopment Commission has the opportunity to have these casual meetings with owners," McNally said. "... .Through a normal civic process, I don't think we would have been able to get to this point."
The land swap plan will require the approval of both the church's council and City Council.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.
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