Editorial: Downtown parking garages are being abandoned and are headed for extinction

Above: Abandoned city parking garage in Meridian, Mississippi.

According to city planners nationwide, downtown parking garages are headed for extinction in cities and towns all over our fair land, to be replaced by ride-hailing services, autonomous cars, golf carts, and conversion of existing garages and planned garages into indoor tennis courts, apartments, etc. Here are articles that explain this trend: Continue reading

Letter to Editor: “Stop the Dick Stewart Convention Center”

March 30, 2021

Dear Editor,

Please inform me and the general public what we can do to stop Historic Downtown Beaufort from being converted to the Dick Stewart Convention Center.

Bob Woodman
Beaufort, SC

Editor’s comment:

If you are concerned about the direction the City of Beaufort is taking, especially in its Historic District, you are automatically a member of the Beautiful Beaufort Alliance, sponsored by The Beaufort Tribune. Click here to see the goals of the Beautiful Beaufort Alliance and what you can do to help.

Lawyer suggests proposed 72-room downtown hotel may not have obtained mandatory zoning variance from City

Above: Scale rendering of proposed 72-room hotel in Beaufort’s historic downtown core-commercial district in comparison to three immediately adjacent commercial buildings owned by Graham B. Trask. Source: Beaufort Design/Build LLC.

The following is a letter delivered today, March 23, by Charleston historic-preservation attorney W. Andrew Gowder, Jr, to William B. Harvey III, Beaufort’s City Attorney. Mr. Gowder is the attorney for downtown Beaufort commercial property owner Graham B. Trask. Continue reading

Fact: Proposed 5 Port Republic Street buildings exceed all 34 existing Bay Street buildings in core commercial district

34 Existing Buildings on Bay Street
700 Block 71,295 sq ft
800 Block 77,888
900 Block 91,914
Total 241,097 sq ft

5 Proposed Buildings Along Port Republic Street
in 700 and 800 Blocks
A- Parking Garage 175,000 sq ft
B-Event Center 5,500
C-Small Hotel 11,000
D-72-Room Hotel 55,000
E-Apartments 29,400
Total 275,900 sq ft

The reason is that the huge proposed buildings along Port Republic Street are as high as four stories and as long as 300 feet in contrast to the existing one- and two-story dramatically smaller buildings on Bay Street, as well as in contrast to the existing buildings on the surrounding Port Republic, Charles, West, Scott, Carteret, and Craven Streets. In other words, the proposed buildings are grossly oversized and out of scale with all existing buildings in the historic downtown core commercial district.

Beaufort County GIS map
City of Beaufort

War of words: Dick Stewart comments on Tribune news article

Yesterday, March 21, Dick Stewart sent a one-sentence email message to a local Beaufort resident as his comment on The Beaufort Tribune‘s most recent news article (see below) about his proposed five downtown commercial structures including three massive ones. Mr. Stewart’s message states in its entirety:

“We look forward to sharing the facts with everyone so that reasonable people can develop informed opinions.”

Editor’s comment: Mr. Stewart also sent the above message to 112 cc recipients of his email. They included a number of residents in the Historic District including the editor/publisher of The Beaufort Tribune, but Mr. Stewart did not include the members of City Council nor of the Historic District Review Board. He also did not give any details of how he intends to share “the facts”. The Beaufort Tribune in cooperation with a group of concerned citizens including local architects has undertaken to ascertain “the facts” by studying and analyzing the public records and permits of City Council, the Historic District Review Board, and the Zoning Board of Appeals. Information will be forthcoming in the Tribune including Mr. Stewart’s information if he will share with the Tribune “so that reasonable people can develop informed opinions”.

War of words: President of The Point Neighborhood Association opposes proposed massive downtown buildings

Above: Map of downtown Beaufort’s historic core commercial district highlighting five new buildings proposed by Dick Stewart and his 303 Associates including a massive four-story hotel of 50,000 square feet, a massive four-story parking garage of 175,000 square feet, and a massive apartment building, all along a two-block area of Port Republic Street, one block off Bay Street.

The following is a letter sent yesterday, March 19, by Douglas Storrs, President of The Point Neighborhood Association, to the five members of Beaufort City Council and the five members of the Historic District Review Board. The Point is a large historic residential neighborhood of more than 200 residents immediately to the right of Beaufort’s downtown historic core commercial district shown on the map above. Port Republic Street extends three blocks into The Point. Continue reading

War of words: Dick Stewart attacks Historic Beaufort Foundation

In a sharply worded, verbose tirade worthy of a spurned suitor, Dick Stewart, owner of 303 Associates, the developer of five massive proposed new structures in Downtown Beaufort including a 50,000 sq ft hotel (see scale model above) and a 175,000 sq ft parking garage, attacked Historic Beaufort Foundation (HBF) in an “Open Letter” published yesterday, March 18, as a paid advertisement in The Island News, a local weekly printed newspaper.

Stewart accused John Troutman, HBF’s chairman, of embarking “on a campaign of misinformation and deceit…to cast doubt on the propriety of our investments in the core commercial area of Downtown Beaufort. This is shameful, immoral and demeans HBF,” according to Stewart. Stewart proceeded to accuse “a few elitists” of being behind the rising alarm of local citizens expressing concerns about 303 Associates’ plans and the City’s purported approval of them as being in compliance with the City’s Code. Continue reading

Massive hotel, other out-of-scale buildings, planned for downtown Beaufort

Above: Scale model of proposed 72-room hotel in proportional comparison to some of the existing neighboring buildings. This is one of five major projects proposed by 303 Associates, a local development company, in various stages of review and purported approval by the City of Beaufort in the Port Republic Street area of the nine-block downtown historic core commercial district. According to reports, the hotel will be “a hotel in the Marriott family of hotels”. Continue reading