Instead, the council authorized staff to move ahead with public projects intended to draw more people to the area, by using town land to build a central park and new hospitality management campus for the University of South Carolina Beaufort.
Plans shown to council in November called for redeveloping a mix of town land, private holdings in Heritage and Coligny plazas, and other property. The plans included a hotel, parking garages, a new park and new plazas with outdoor cafes, shops and restaurants. Condominiums or apartments would occupy a second story above the retail space.
Spending town money to entice Coligny area businesses to redevelop their properties, however, won’t bring in enough tax revenue to offset the costs, a consultant told the council last month. (View the full report here.)
Instead, the town should use its land and TIF money to improve parking and add green space, upgrade nearby streets and establish a presence for USCB’s hospitality programs, town manager Steve Riley and the consultant recommended. Council agreed unanimously.
Town Council last year approved an agreement with the university to create a new center for event-management and hospitality training.
The center, operated by USCB in space rented from Sea Pines, offers credit and noncredit courses, as well as certificates and training for industry professionals.
The total cost for improvements in Coligny approved by council is estimated at $15 to $20 million.
Redeveloping the Coligny area has long been a priority for the town, which faces a December 2014 deadline to commit an estimated $13 million to parks, roads, pathways, boardwalks, parking, drainage and landscaping. About $6.4 million of the money, which was captured from a tax-increment finance district, has been set aside for future projects within the Coligny district.
The town will likely borrow to pay what it cannot pick up through TIF dollars earmarked for the district, Riley said.
"We'll retire some bonds in the next several years," he said. "So we'll pay off some debt, allowing us to take on new debt without needing to raise taxes to do so."