Getting To Yes At Whitehall

The Sea Island Coalition yesterday offered to work with MidCity Partners “to define a future for Whitehall that works for you as well as the greater Beaufort community.”

MidCity Real Estate Partners, in Atlanta, had proposed a cluster of seven apartment towers, an independent living facility and nearly 20,000 s.f. of retail/commercial space for the property. The proposal was dealt a setback Nov. 13 when the Metro Planning Commission denied its application in a 6-0 vote. The vote reflected the fact that the development did not meet the requirements of the new Beaufort Code, nor was it consistent with the City’s Civic Master Plan.

City Planning Director Libby Anderson had said in a Nov. 17 interview with the Island Packet that developers “can still do a lot,” despite current zoning on the property limiting density and prohibiting vehicle-intensive use such as drive-through restaurants or banks, for example.

Sea Island Coalition chairman Chuck Newton said the group expected to see Whitehall developed at some point, “and if the plan is smart, and inspired, and character-enhancing, the Coalition could be fully supportive.”

He said, however, that the challenge is getting to a proposal that meets a strict reading of the code, complies with the spirit of the Civic Master Plan and gets the support of community advocates such as the Coalition, the Coastal Conservation League and the Lady’s Island Business & Professional Association (LIBPA).

“We can’t always just say no,” said Newton, “but until we see a proposal that fits the property and gets the support of the community, we’ll never get to yes. We have asked the developer to work with us to define a plan for Whitehall that meets our objectives and theirs, and I do hope they will take us up on the offer,” he said.

“If Whitehall is to be developed,” said the letter, “our goal is to see development that goes beyond lowest-common-denominator thinking, and is inspired given the nature of the parcel and the challenges the site presents. It has to fit the Beaufort character, and ideally, it will be development that puts and keeps Beaufort on the map. If we share these goals, I’m certain a level of collaboration in seeking a solution can be put to good work,” the letter concluded.

Click here to read a copy of the Coalition’s letter.

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