City to help folks improve property

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By Lisa Allen

Property upkeep varies along Duke and Washington streets in the Northwest Corridor of Beaufort. Some homes are pristine, others sit amid unkempt lawns with upkeep long overdue.

To entice everyone to make an effort, whether it’s home repairs or fresh paint, the city will reimburse property owners for some of their city-related permit fees.  

Fees under $50 are being waived, those $51 and up are being cut in half and property owners renovating more than one property wil get a 75 percent refund. Permit fees run about $1,550 for a $250,000 home. 

So far, less than $500 has been reimbursed, said Deborah Johnson, a consultant to the city for the project. But there are 12 applications pending, including two for new homes.

The renovation incentives are atop other tax breaks for rehabbing long-vacant or historical property, or creating student or low-income housing.

“We’re trying to be the catalyst for improvements,” said Mike McFee, Beaufort City Council member and chairman of the infill subcommittee of the city’s Redevelopment Commission. “We’re piggybacking on the Village Renaissance Project where we spent millions to update the streetscape in the area. It’s a great time to help people get things done.”

The effort had an unexpected lift when a group of volunteers made a project out of the subsidized housing at Duke and Church streets. Lowcountry Master Gardeners, Clemson Extension, Scout troops and the Beaufort Housing Authority landscaped the intersection, painted a mural and turned a parking lot into a pocket park. Nearly 100 people helped with the project.

“It was a huge success. Every time we called the volunteers, they came,” McFee said. 

The city also worked with Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority to waive some of the cost for new construction to lay lateral pipe from the main to the property line. 

The incentive program covers properties bounded by Duke, Washington, Ribaut and Carteret.