Beaufort News

Planned Port Royal apartment buildings too big, neighbors say

A conceptual elevation drawing of one of two four-story apartment buildings, each having 72 apartments for the Proposed Wright's Point Apartments. According to development plans, the site would also have four other, three-story apartment buildings – each having 30 apartments.
A conceptual elevation drawing of one of two four-story apartment buildings, each having 72 apartments for the Proposed Wright's Point Apartments. According to development plans, the site would also have four other, three-story apartment buildings – each having 30 apartments.

A planned Port Royal apartment complex would join other high-end communities popping up in the Beaufort County but has to first resolve questions about its design.

The proposed Wright’s Point Apartments would be built on 20 acres off Parris Island Gateway on Battery Creek. The plan includes 272 units built into three-story and four-story units.

A boat dock, fire pit with outdoor seating, pool and cabana and community garden are among the amenities included in plans for the waterfront community.

But the design is in early stages and has drawn criticism this week for the scale of the buildings.

The height exceeds town zoning rules that buildings be kept to 2  1/2 stories. And the number of planned units per building is more density than is allowed.

The development’s architect said bending those rules would allow more green space on the site and that a conforming plan would not be as pretty.

But nearby residents and members of the town’s design review panel pushed back against any such allowances.

“If I had all those buildings coming in, I wouldn’t want to live there anymore,” Design Review Board member Eric Erickson said Thursday, to applause from a full council chambers at Town Hall. “These (plans) are so far off, I can’t believe they’re even up here.”

The board voted to require the developer to adjust plans to conform to the property’s zoning. Intermark Development and Charlotte-based FMK Architects are working the project for owner Bennett McNeal.

Residents worried the proposed buildings would tower over their homes, affect access and tarnish the setting of their waterfront property.

“I’m about to go all Donald Trump — we’ve got to build a wall,” said Mike Gaga, whose home on Wright’s Point Drive abuts the proposed project.

I’m about to go all Donald Trump — we’ve got to build a wall.

Mike Gaga, Wright’s Point homeowner

Architect Jane Frederick, of Lady’s Island-based Frederick + Frederick, said the developers were showing little regard for the work that resulted in the town’s form-based code, which aims to better control the look of development.

Developers tried to work within the zoning rules but “the first pass at that plan was something we weren’t very excited about,” said Mark Stuckey, president of Intermark Development.

Architect Cooter Ramsey, the board’s consultant, sought to soften the criticism. The plan is the best of five previous site plans, Ramsey said.

He noted that shorter buildings would sprawl on the site and that he would like to see fewer buildings, perhaps larger than zoning requirements, with more trees saved.

The architecture, materials and use of the site are all appropriate, he added.

“We deal with this daily, and this is first class,” Ramsey said.

A new apartment development joins several other recent high-end efforts in Beaufort County, including another complex in Port Royal.

Parc at Broad River opened this year at Savannah Highway and S.C. 170, near the base of the Broad River Bridge. The units are branded luxury apartments, with one-bedroom options starting at $1,055.

The units offer granite countertops and water views. A fire pit, cyber cafe and media center are also among the selling points.

High-end apartment communities have also been planned in Bluffton and Hilton Head.

Stephen Fastenau: 843-706-8182, @IPBG_Stephen

  Comments