Upcoming “Big Box” Zoning meeting: Monday, August 9, 5:30 p.m.

Below is the agenda for the upcoming meeting of Beaufort’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBOA) at City Hall-Council Chambers, Monday, August 9, at 5:30 p.m. The ZBOA will decide whether or not to grant a Special Exception to allow a massive three-story “big box” apartment building, see rendering above, on the corner of Charles and Port Republic Streets in Beaufort’s historic downtown commercial district as the prelude to two more massive structures: a huge convention hotel and a huge parking garage. In toto these will convert downtown Beaufort into a Convention Center composed of three huge buildings with all existing stores being satellites, similar to shopping malls all across America with several large anchor structures, many smaller shops, and a parking garage. The uniqueness of historic downtown Beaufort, which has existed for more than 300 years, will be destroyed, replaced by the homogenized mediocrity that characterizes strip shopping centers and retail malls all across modern America.

The Beaufort Tribune calls on all interested citizens to attend this meeting and MAKE YOUR VIEWS KNOWN IN OPPOSITION.

Click here for all 35 pages of the agenda package (takes a long time to load). Continue reading

Will Cook & Graham Trask discuss their motives in notifying National Park Service about threats to National Historic Landmark District

Editor’s note: The following was published yesterday in the Sunday edition of The Beaufort Gazette/The Island Packet. The Beaufort Tribune is pleased to publish this same article today.

“Other Motives”

These two words, “Other Motives,” were utilized by the new mayor of the City of Beaufort, Stephen Murray, as quoted in Karl Puckett’s May 14th, 2021, article in the Beaufort Gazette/Island Packet, to describe the “intentions” of Will Cook and Graham Trask in alerting the National Park Service to the current threat facing the Beaufort Historic District, which was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1973, as well as the newly-created Reconstruction Era National Historical Park that is located within the Beaufort Historic District.

Mr. Murray, as you did not elucidate on our “other motives”, we would like to take this opportunity to clarify them for our fellow Beaufortonians. We also invite you to clarify what you meant by “other motives,” as we are quite sure that Mr. Puckett and the Beaufort Gazette/Island Packet, along with other notable local media outlets such as the Beaufort Tribune and The Island News, would appreciate an opportunity to print your feedback.

Our motives are: Continue reading

Important upcoming City meetings: Tuesday & Wednesday, May 25 & 26

Below are notices and agendas for important upcoming City Council and Historic District Review Board meetings. The Beaufort Tribune calls on all interested citizens to attend these meetings and MAKE YOUR VIEWS KNOWN. Click on items below for agendas.

Tuesday, May 25, 5:00 p.m. City Council Work Session to interview applicants for Historic District Review Board. VERY IMPORTANT – See who is being considered as a new member of the Historic District Review Board.

Tuesday, May 25, 7:00 p.m. City Council Regular Meeting

Wednesday, May 16, 2:00 p.m. Historic District Review Board

303 Associates and Beaufort Inn file Answer to lawsuit brought to stop their downtown projects

303 Associates LLC, the local development company owned by Callawassie Island resident Dick Stewart, and his Beaufort Inn LLC have filed their Answer with Exhibits to the lawsuit brought by West Street Farms LLC and Mix Farms LLC, owned by Beaufort native Graham Bowen Trask. These defendants claim they are grandfathered under the City’s former zoning code and that they have certain “vested rights” that entitle them to go forward with their projects.

The lawsuit was also brought against the City of Beaufort, whose Answer is still being awaited after the City obtained a one-month extension to reply.

The lawsuit is an effort to stop the proposed massive hotel, parking garage, and apartment building projects in the historic downtown commercial district for allegedly violating the City Code and its required procedures for approval. Already a result has been the intervention of the National Park Service into the fray by notifying the City of its intention to review the potential threats to the National Landmark District posed by the projects.

Click here to view the Answer.

Click here to view the Exhibits.

National Park Service intervenes to help preserve historic downtown commercial district

Proposes comprehensive Integrity and Condition Study of Beaufort’s National Historic Landmark District

The United States National Park Service (NPS) yesterday notified Beaufort Mayor Stephen Murray and City Manager Bill Prokop that the NPS proposes to conduct a comprehensive Integrity and Condition Study to “document the district and highlight positive preservation actions as well as items that may require attention”. This action is in response to reports to the NPS of threats to the historic integrity of the Continue reading

Historic District Review Board drops hotel and parking garage from upcoming Wednesday agenda, adds executive session

The City’s Historic District Review Board (HDRB) today eliminated consideration of final approval of the proposed oversize parking garage and proposed oversize convention hotel in the historic downtown commercial district from its upcoming 2:00 p.m. Wednesday meeting via Zoom. The Board also added an executive session to receive a legal briefing about the recent lawsuit filed against the City and 303 Associates/The Beaufort Inn alleging failure to obtain zoning variances explicitly required by the City Code.

The Tribune published the original agenda last week, click here, which included 250 pages of plans and other information about the proposed hotel and parking garage. Below is the revised agenda with the City’s email notice to the HDRB members of these changes. Continue reading

Downtown homeowner: Why isn’t City enforcing zoning code for “big box” buildings downtown?

Dear members of Beaufort’s HDRB [Historic District Review Board],

My name is Westley Byrne.  I’m a downtown homeowner, and I’m writing to express my deep concern regarding the hotel, parking garage, and apartment complex that comprise the subject of a lawsuit filed today [Monday, April 5].

I’ve reviewed the Beaufort Code, Preservation Manual, and HDRB and ZBOA [Zoning Board of Appeals] meeting minutes going back several years.  I have to agree with the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that there are code and manual violations that must be addressed before any further actions can be taken. Continue reading

City & 303 Associates sued for alleged violations of City Code; injunction sought

The City of Beaufort and 303 Associates, the largest owner of commercial properties in Beaufort’s nine-square-block historic downtown core commercial district, were sued today in the Court of Common Pleas by two downtown property owners, West Street Farms, LLC, and Mix Farms, LLC, for alleged violations of the City Code involving three alleged “Large Footprint Buildings” that 303 Associates proposes to construct in the area: a large hotel, a large apartment building, and a large parking garage. Continue reading

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