Photo above: The city of Beaufort has purchased an old gas station and the former United Way building to make way for an open vista. Photo provided.
Views of the Battery Creek marsh from Beaufort’s Boundary Street just got better with the announced purchase of a former gas station by the city of Beaufort and Beaufort County.
The gas station property is adjacent to three lots that were cleared the week of June 20, including the former Huddle House, Sea Eagle seafood market and the old fire station shed.
The area will be seeded with grass and converted to passive open space looking out over the marsh.
It’s also adjacent the former United Way building, which will be demolished for open space once Beaufort County relocates offices out of the structure, estimated to be two years.
“Our mission is to help preserve open vistas across the county, and this certainly is an important location considering it is a few hundred feet from the Civil War Battery Saxton site,” said Dean Moss, a board member with the Beaufort County Open Land Trust who led negotiations for all the parcels.
“It’s going to be pretty and peaceful, and will be a significant improvement over the buildings that were there. This is part of a long-term partnership among the Open Land Trust, the city of Beaufort and Beaufort County, and the end result is going to be something that will make a difference for generations to come,” Moss said.
The city, county and nonprofit Open Land Trust pledged a total of $3 million to acquire the scenic vista properties along the Boundary Street/Battery Creek marsh. A wooden boardwalk will link sidewalks along the area, and the future could bring walking paths and park benches to the area, Moss said.
Acquiring the Sonoco gas station property is part of the overall master plan for beautifying the area, Moss said. As part of the purchase deal, the gas station owner will be allowed to remove items such as gas pumps and anything inside the facility before it’s demolished, which is likely to occur in the next few months.
Work to open up the marsh vista is part of the beautification effort related to the $32 million joint Boundary Street Improvement Corridor started in early 2016. The road construction is on schedule for completion in early 2018 and is on budget, despite slowdowns from Hurricane Matthew and an earlier tropical storm.
“We have been working closely with our partners, the Open Land Trust and Beaufort County, for many, many months on acquiring these properties,” said Beaufort City Manager Bill Prokop. “They are an important piece of our overall beautification of this key entrance to our historic city.”
After the city bought the Sea Eagle Market property in 2016, the owners relocated across Boundary Street and expanded to include a restaurant. Beaufort County bought the former Huddle House and the Beaufort County Open Land Trust bought the United Way building. Demolition of that structure has been delayed while the county uses it for office space.
Once it and the gas station property are cleared, there will be an uninterrupted view of the scenic marsh from near Hogarth Street to Wendy’s, located beside Battery Saxton.
For more information, visit www.boundarystreetupdate.com.