The Lowcountry has long enjoyed a vibrant business community, with restaurants, retailers, home and auto services, and many other sectors represented. Much of business has ground to a halt for the past three months because of the pandemic, but new life is emerging slowly.
Here's the latest in new construction, renovations, relocations, mergers, planned projects, closings and grand openings.
• Bay Point Island, Port Royal Sound, Beaufort. The Staff Review Team for Beaufort County has accepted a new proposal by developers that now meets special zoning approval consideration for their $100 million "eco-friendly" plan. The review team had rejected the 50-acre development proposal earlier this year on the 347-acre island.
The developers will present their case to the county's zoning board seeking a permit to move forward with their plans. The property is located on the north side of the sound, adjacent to St. Helena Island, and is not accessible by car.
From the beginning, local environmentalists have objected to development plans because of the island's fragile coastline and environment and disruption of migratory bird habitats..
• Hilton Head Visitors Center, U.S. 278 and S.C. 46, Bluffton. It appears that this once must-stop gateway to the island offering brochures, maps and resort consultants finally will breathe new life. The Beaufort County Design Review Board gave conceptual development approval in April to the 3.7-acre site, which closed in 2015 and has been an overgrown eyesore ever since. Dunkin Donuts hopes to occupy a portion of the site. Discount Tire, with three service bays, hopes to occupy another.
• The Bridge at Calhoun, Calhoun and Bridge streets, Old Town Bluffton. What is an empty lot now once served as a filling station, an artist's studio and Eggs 'n' Tricities store for 25 years. Bluffton developer and property owner Matthew Cunningham wants to build three multi-use buildings housing restaurants, retail shops and residences.
He purchased the property in the summer of 2019 and recently presented plans to the town's historic preservations review committee as the first step of the process.
• East Argent Development, Argent Boulevard and U.S. 278, Hardeeville. Preserve Communities, one of the developers of the development, donated 1,505 acres of land to the city, most of which will be preserved as passive and recreation park space.
Development plans call for, eventually, 9,500 homes and apartments and 1.5 million square feet of retail and office space. The development has been on the books for five years and construction of the first phase has begun.
• Island West Golf Club, 40 Island West Drive, Bluffton. An architect and developer presented a plan recently to the county planning Staff Review Team to rezone the 145-acre property to allow residential and commercial development on 61 acres; the remaining acreage would be open space.
Bluffton landscape architect Witmer Jones Keefer and the Bluffton-based real estate company The Reed Group made the presentation, which is the first step in the county's rezoning process. Brown Golf operates several public golf courses in the area, including Island West, which closed earlier this spring. The course was built in 1992. The homeowner's association has opposed the development from the beginning.
• Whisper Creek Day Spa, 1196 Fording Island Road, Bluffton. What used to be a Golden Corral for 16 years closed in March, and the 2.5-acre property with a 12,000-square-foot building was sold in April. The facility is being extensively renovated, and the new owners - Bob and Jennifer Wolfe - said they hope to open the new facility by the end of the year.
The luxury spa will provide a variety of therapies and services, such as facials, massages and manicures. The Golden Corral in Beaufort on Robert Smalls Parkway remains open.
Openings, ribbon cuttings and closings:
• Extended Stay America, 108 Seagrass Station Road, Okatie. The newly designed, four-story hotel opened in April and features 120 guest rooms with refrigerators, microwaves, stovetops and cookware. The pet-friendly facility also features a laundry room and a fitness center.
Have Bluffton or Hilton Head business news to share with our readers? Send information to Dean Rowland at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rowland is a veteran senior editor and freelance writer.