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LOWCOUNTRY LOWDOWN

5 mins read

 Affordable housing still a dream for many 

When it comes to giving thanks, many place safe housing at the top of their list. 

But in Beaufort County, like communities around the world, with the influx of second- and third-home owners, there are those not so lucky to have that safe housing. 

Statistics collected by federal and state agencies may vary, but last year’s federal “Point in Time” count listed only 100 individuals qualifying as “homeless” and another 765 facing “housing insecurity,” which means they might be sleeping in a friend’s extra bedroom for a while or be facing eviction before the next paycheck. 

“Housing” is an interesting issue in any community, especially when you consider the rate of housing growth right here in Beaufort. 

Case in point, the city planning staff is considering applications from three development firms with plans for apartment complex totaling some 878 – almost 1000 – new apartments, all located in the Burton area, around the Cross Creek shopping center and the recently approved Beaufort Station shopping center. 

Representatives of the projects who spoke last week to the city’s Design Review Board, in response to a question, said no, these new apartments would not be considered “affordable housing” but we can certainly hope the market, with all these options, will at least make the rents manageable for the working folks. 

That means, according to stats you look at for northern Beaufort County, somewhere between the $1,500 to $1,800 per month rent which is considered “median” for one-bedroom apartments. 

And while the developers keep planning, community leaders will keep looking for solutions to providing “affordable housing” for folks we need to live here to work in our schools, fire departments and doctors’ offices. 

And those without, will keep hoping for some solution. 

Charles Street units still on hold 

BEAUFORT – Speaking of housing, no updates on 303 Associates’ plans to build a three-story structure on the corner of Charles and Port Republic Streets, a building 

designed to provide 19 to 24 luxury apartments in the heart of downtown.

The development company’s plans for Cannon Place, a new hotel on the corner of Port Republic and Scott streets and a parking garage in the same area, are all still held up in court by people who don’t think such massive structures belong downtown.

Wonder if they plan on flipping this one?

BAY POINT – Word comes that there could be at least ONE new home on the pristine, isolated Bay Point Island, the subject of much controversy last year this time.

Thailand-based developers came forth with plans for a 50-villa “eco-resort” on the barrier island located in the mouth of St. Helena Sound. But when the county board of appeals refused to give them the variance they needed, well, they did what so many have done and they sued.

The case is under mediation, but in the meantime, the island owners have gotten a permit for a villa, a 4,200 square foot villa, and the state DHEC has issued a septic tank permit.

Bet it’s not going to be “affordable housing.”

For this, we can give thanks

ST. HELENA ISLAND – With all the development taking place, it’s good to see the Beaufort County Open Land Trust at work, with funding by county taxpayers, to protect open spaces.

Their latest acquisition, announced earlier this month, is 88 acres on St. Helena near Eddings Creek, part of the Charles Henry Farms. The land was on the market in 2019 with rumors this past summer than a residential development was in the works.

The Open Land Trust, working with Beaufort County’s Rural and Critical Lands Conservation program and the S.C. Conservation Bank, purchased the property and turned it over to the Charleston-based Center for Heirs Property Preservation which will manage the property.

The OLT holds a conservation easement on the land which means it cannot be developed without their approval.

Lolita Huckaby Watson is a community volunteer and former reporter/editorial assistant/columnist with The Beaufort Gazette, The Savannah Morning News, Bluffton Today, Beaufort Today and The Robesonian (Lumberton, N.C.). She can be reached at bftbay@gmail.com.

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