City of Beaufort selects developer for marina parking lot downtown

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A partnership of a Greenville, SC, real estate development firm and a past president of the Urban Land Institute from Beaufort earned the nod from Beaufort City Council to lead the redevelopment of the under utilized waterfront parking lot at the Beaufort Downtown Marina.

The Furman Co., Development LLC will act as developer on behalf of Historic Marina Partners LLC comprised of Furman and Chaffin/Light. The public/private partnership is envisioned to spur new economic growth in the western end of downtown Beaufort’s retail district and to create new draws for area residents. Jim Chaffin is a former board member at Historic Beaufort Foundation.

“This is an exciting step forward for the city,” Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said. “There’s a lot of work ahead, and a lot of public input will be needed, but this team is fully capable of helping us reach our goals.

The approximate four-acre parking lot site is between Bay Street and the Beaufort River. It is adjacent to the city-owned Downtown Marina, three public parks, and the downtown shopping and entertainment district.

“I am happy to see this project move forward, especially with such a strong development team working hand in hand with us and the Redevelopment Commission,” said City Councilman Mike McFee.  “This is a vital location for Beaufort for our economic growth and as one of the key entry points to our Historic District.”

Furman has provided comprehensive solutions in real estate for over 125 years. The partnership includes Chaffin/Light, a company that has developed lifestyle and resort communities in many states, including Spring Island and Chechessee Creek Club in southern Beaufort County.

“The completed project will represent a comprehensive effort in public-private partnership involving the developer team, City of Beaufort and the community stakeholders, a three-way relationship of success encompassing economic, social and environmental factors. We haven’t begun to sketch out any concepts yet. We want to hear what the local market says first,” said Steve Navarro, president of The Furman Co.

The Beaufort Redevelopment Commission last spring sought letters of interest from private developers interested in working on the marina lot project.

“We’ve done a lot of work in a short amount of time to get to this point,” said Jon Verity, chairman of the Redevelopment Commission. “With the firm selected and the Memorandum of Understanding signed, now it’s time to take the next steps and to build in opportunities for public input at regular intervals.”

The text of the MOU can be found online at www.cityofbeaufort.org on the Planning Department’s page.

Beaufort City Councilwoman Donnie Beer said the city will use this redevelopment to address public parking. “For years parking has been a concern for merchants in our downtown area,” Beer said. “As we begin with the marina development, we are looking at some fresh opportunities to improve parking. We expect that downtown parking availability will increase as a result of this project.”