Beaufort News

Beaufort to sell former City Hall building to Lowcountry Produce

The intersection of Boundary Street and Robert Smalls Parkway as seen on the afternoon of Aug. 31, 2015, in Beaufort.
The intersection of Boundary Street and Robert Smalls Parkway as seen on the afternoon of Aug. 31, 2015, in Beaufort. dearley@beaufortgazette.com

Beaufort is selling an old building that has been part of the fabric of the city for almost a century and in recent years found a successful new use.

The city will soon be under contract to sell 302 Carteret St. to the owners of Lowcountry Produce, the trendy market and cafe that has operated in the building since 2011. The impressive brick building at the intersection of Carteret and Port Republic streets served as a post office and was the site of City Hall until 2010.

Lowcountry Produce, run by brothers Noel and Dwight Garrett and business partner Seabury Thorp, has had a lease with an option to purchase. The owners chose to buy the building when the city told owners of their plans to sell some city property.

City Council voted Tuesday to allow the city to enter the contract.

Under the contract, the sales price is $725,000 "as is," with both parties acknowledging necessary repairs to the roof and HVAC. The sale is contingent on the buyers obtaining financing within 60 days of going under contract.

The money would go into the city's redevelopment fund.

Attempts to reach the Lowcountry Produce owners Tuesday were unsuccessful. City leaders praised the proposed sale and Lowcountry Produce as a success for downtown redevelopment.

The city had included the building on a list of unneeded property to sell. Of the 12 to 15 properties expected on the list, all but three are vacant land, city manager Bill Prokop said.

In addition to the Lowcountry Produce building, an old maintenance building on Prince Street and the Mossy Oaks Road fire station will also hit the market, Prokop said.

"Land we don't have any use for, we don't see any use for in the foreseeable future, we'll put on the market and let the private side do what it wishes with it," Prokop said, calling the potential Lowcountry Produce sale "great for everybody."

The family business, founded by Martha and Dwight Garrett, started as a produce stand in Seabrook and also opened a location on Hilton Head Island in 2012. More than $200,000 was invested to renovate the downtown Beaufort location, with its high archways, subway tile and local food.

The eatery has garnered widespread recognition since opening the cafe and market in Beaufort. Lowcountry Produce was featured in the current issue of Garden and Gun magazine in a "Shop the South" feature and has been featured in Oprah's O magazine.

"A lot of people say the store feels like the community center," Noel Garrett told Garden and Gun.

In other action, City Council:

  • Allowed free parking downtown for two hours per car, per day from Nov. 27 until Jan. 1.
  • Approved a request from Main Street Beaufort to sell beer and wine at "Night on the Town" on Dec. 4 and extended the event until 10 p.m., approved a "Shrimp Festival makeup day" for Dec. 5 in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park before the boat parade, and allowed the annual Christmas parade Dec. 6.
  • Allowed noise ordinance waivers for the Boundary Street project and a fire department holiday party.
  • Heard from city manager Bill Prokop that the city is accepting donations for holiday decorations and that work has started at the dog park in Southside Park.

Follow reporter Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.

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