Brad Bowden is looking forward to the Christmas season, although not for the predictable reason.
Rather, the long-awaited, oft-discussed Lafayette Street residential project should be well underway by then, after more than three years of planning.
Grading and installation of utility lines should begin in December, and construction on the first of six homes should start just after the new year, he said.
The project "is what the city wanted and what we wanted, but it's not the time frame either of us wanted," Bowden said.
The project, three years in the making, is a private-public partnership with Gooding Contractors Inc. The city gave the company -- composed of Bowden, Eric Brown and Lance Gooding -- nearly an acre at 1403 Lafayette St. in June 2013. In exchange, they have agreed to sell the homes at prices middle-class workers can afford.
In November 2012, when the ink was fresh on the agreement with the city, Brown was optimistic construction would begin the following spring. Instead, permitting delays followed as the company worked with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the S.C. Department of Transportation to minimize changes to the lot -- and therefore to the costs -- while still meeting both agencies' requirements for safety and stormwater drainage, Bowden said.
In recent meetings, members of the city's Redevelopment Commission, which is leading the project, have questioned the delays and how to avoid them in future public-private projects.
The first building permit is expected to be issued next week, Brown said Monday, after leaving a meeting of the Pigeon Point Neighborhood Association where he updated residents on the plans and timelines.
"It's taken us a while to do, but we have a great little design, great cottages we're excited about," he said.
If construction begins in early January, the first home should be ready in spring, Bowden said. The developers hope to sell the two- and three-bedroom homes before they are completed to speed the project along. Bowden said the homes will start at about $200,000 each, with larger models and custom designs costing more.
"There is a fine line between giving the city what they want from an architectural aspect, and also putting in a enough quality to meet what (city officials) want, and meeting our finances," he said.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.
- Developers ask for patience on Lafayette Street Project, Aug. 7, 2014
- Lafayette Street project could break ground this summer, March 10, 2013
- Beaufort's Lafayette Street housing plan advances, includes park, Dec. 2, 2012