Retailers, restaurants and other service businesses are changing the retail and commercial landscape in Bluffton and Hilton Head. Here’s the latest in new construction, renovations, relocations, mergers, planned projects, closings and grand openings.

The town of Bluffton’s Negotiating Committee was re-formed as a seven-member panel in April 2019 to meet with developers to determine how property can be developed, its density and its percentage of affordable housing. As of October, the committee had two active residential projects on its docket:

• Southeastern Development Associates has asked that certain restrictions be removed on 392 residential dwelling units (RDU) that limits their use in the Buckwalter Place Commerce Park Master Plan. Specifically, Southeastern requests to transfer the RDUs to an undeveloped 59-acre property located at the intersection of U.S. 278 and the future Hampton Parkway.

• Village Park Homes proposes to add 206 more units to its planned 76 units in the 68-acre Alston Park development in the New Riverside area. The addition would include townhomes and single-family units.

Currently, 92 percent of Bluffton’s land is already planned for development and includes seven agreements – Bluffton Village, Schultz Tract, Village at Verdier, Buckwalter Place, Jones Estate, New Riverside and Palmetto Bluff – covering 32,000 acres. Of those planned, 38 percent have been built.

Recommendations adopted by the committee are forwarded to the town’s Planning Commission, which than forwards its recommendations to the Town Council for final action.

In other news:

• Ace Hardware, 29 Innovation Drive, Bluffton. This locally owned store opened four years ago at Buckwalter Place and is building a 15,000-square-foot establishment on 2.5 acres at New River Crossing on U.S. 278 in Hardeeville. It will feature a garden center drive-through. A January 2020 opening is planned.

• Bluffton Self-Help, 39 Sheraton Park Circle, Bluffton. The nonprofit organization was the beneficiary of a mobile food pantry to deliver food to area residents in need. The truck was donated by Palmetto Electric Cooperative and the Belfair Charitable Fund.

• Bluffton Trading Post, 1230 May River Road, Bluffton. The former site of Scott’s Market has been renovated and transformed into a gourmet market and beer emporium. Part retail shop and part art gallery, the establishment features a unique collection of wines, a pairing of menu foods to partner with a glass of wine or beer, sweets, and a specialty shop selling meats, olive oils, cheeses, sauces and more. The venue will occasionally schedule live music, events, demonstrations and parties.

• Moss Subdivision, 11 Wharf St., Bluffton. The Bluffton Planning Commission approved a development plan Oct. 23 for the construction of 12 homes on 3.8 acres and associated infrastructure in Old Town. The commission’s recommendation now moves to the town council for action.

• Taco Bell, 11 Gateway Village Road, Bluffton. The renovation of this eatery has been completed and was scheduled to reopen at the end of October. The dining room was closed for months while the décor was modernized, but the drive-through remained open. Meanwhile, construction of a new Taco Bell is nearly complete near Interstate 95 and U.S. 278 in Hardeeville.

• Chicken Salad Chick, 20 Discovery Drive (Buckwalter Plaza), Bluffton. Construction of this Alabama-based eatery located in front of Kroger is progressing. The menu will feature gourmet soups and salads, sandwiches, 12 flavors of chicken salad, sides and desserts.

• The Bluestone, 4921 Bluffton Pkwy., Bluffton, Oct. 28. Continental Realty Corp., a Baltimore-based real estate investment and management company, said it has purchased the 360-unit multifamily apartment community for $69.3 million. The asset was purchased from a joint venture between The Carlyle Group and Blaze Partners.

Grand openings, ribbon cuttings and closings:

• Hargray Communications, 862-A William Hilton Pkwy., Hilton Head, Aug. 16. The regional telecommunications company opened a new retail and customer service location. It features interactive Hargray product displays and an education center for visitors to discover how technology improves the way they live, work and play. A community room also is available free for use as a high-tech meeting space. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

• Weichert Realtors Coastal Properties, 1250 May River Road, Bluffton, Oct. 29. This well-established real estate agency opened its new building with a ribbon cutting on a rainy afternoon, with assistance from the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. Joe and Karen Ryan, owners and brokers in charge, welcomed staff, friends and chamber members to the opening reception.

Have Bluffton or Hilton Head business news to share with our readers? Send information to Dean Rowland at Lowcountry resident Rowland is a veteran senior editor and freelance writer.