By Ashley Boncimino
Published Nov. 18, 2013
Furman Co. President Steve Navarro and Beaufort developer Jim Chaffin will partner on a joint project to redevelop an underutilized waterfront parking lot at Beaufort’s historic Downtown Marina. Beaufort City Council approved an agreement of understanding with Navarro and Chaffin’s firm, Historic Marina Partners LLC, that outlines the completion of a development plan with public input after 180 days.
“What I’m most excited about this is that it’s a really cool site that has so much potential,” said Navarro. “It’s in a really strategic location, and that’s something we think we can really take advantage of and attract a lot of people to.”
The four-acre parking lot site contains around 100 parking spots and is adjacent to the city-owned downtown marina, three public parks and the downtown shopping and entertainment district. The development is intended to encourage economic growth in the western end of downtown Beaufort’s retail district and to draw residents to the area, according to city news release.
Beaufort City Council approved 4-1 the memorandum to begin public input and planning the development. The agreement does not mandate a development project and would require additional council approval before the project could be built. The development project presented by Historic Marina Partners LLC must be financially self-sustaining and consistent with the Civic Master Plan, which outlines detailed planning for public investment and the long-term development of the city.
The developers are still gathering input from the public and public interest groups and have not yet begun specific plans, according to Navarro. “We definitely will respect and want to try to adhere to all of the historic standards,” he said. Redevelopment of the marina parking lot must blend with surrounding buildings, include public input and adhere to standards in the city’s Civic Master Plan.
Navarro and Chaffin spent Wednesday and part of Thursday meeting with the Beaufort Redevelopment Commission and Main Street Beaufort U.S.A. to better understand the needs of the area and the public sentiment surrounding the potential development. Jim Chaffin is co-founder of Chaffin & Light Associates, a development firm with over 40 years of experience with resort and recreational community development, including the award-winning Beaufort golf community Spring Island.
“Our objective is to create a great project the community is proud of,” said Navarro of Furman Co., a Greenville-based real estate firm with over 125 years of experience. “Our No. 2 objective is that it makes economic sense, not only for us as developers, but for the city and the people who live and shop in Beaufort.”
The Beaufort Redevelopment Commission received five responses from developers after soliciting letters of interest for the project back in April. The redevelopment project must meet aesthetic guidelines that allow it to blend with the Historic District and the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, according to the news release. The project must also retain public access to the waterway and include pedestrian connections to the park and to Bay Street.