Kudos to Beaufort’s City Loft and many others

31 Jan Kudos to Beaufort’s City Loft and many others

Last week I had the opportunity to meet with a team of knowledgeable and highly motivated retail and restaurant consultants who are frequenting Beaufort seeking opportunities for clients interested in moving their businesses, homes and new jobs to Beaufort.  We talked about what is missing such as late night dining, entertainment venues (jazz or blues club?) and retail opportunities.

Clearly what public and private collaboration has accomplished in recent years has set the stage though we fail to miss some additional opportunities on Carteret Street, Charles and Bladen Streets along with near in Boundary,  all of which are considered our core downtown.  If you have ideas for needs to be filled, that can command market share and fiscal viability let me know and I will direct them to you.

Why Beaufort?

In many places some assume that bigger is necessarily better.  The special city we call home demonstrates this is not necessarily so. Mass, scale and relationships with the surroundings often drive excellence.  Most importantly, however, is the quality of the product and the reuse of existing underutilized structures, refined to a higher standard and exemplar quality management and staff.

Matt McAlhaney and his crew at City Loft  gave a new life to a run down “motel” on Carteret Street which now is a nationally acclaimed venue for guests in our core commercial district.

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The revitalized Anchorage 1770 Inn has also achieved huge acclaim from travel writers, vacation critics and guests for adaptive reuse and the quality experience.

Tabby Place, not a large convention center long talked about but likely would not fit downtown, has filled a very important niche by providing a unique and beautiful gathering place for local events and visitors including a special place for weddings, receptions and other events. It is amazing what the Beaufort Inn created after an abandoned grocery store was repurposed into Tabby Place.

If we market these and other great lodging places in concert with each other, we have an authentic setting for Beaufort appropriate group meetings and small conventions, destination events and the like.  And it all fits together so well.

Lets not forget the new owners of the Cuthbert House who will bring new energy to what former owner and Gary and Mary Ann Thomas achieved in a short time.

Add the adapted reuse of buildings like old Beaufort Bank into Paninis,  the abandoned Furniture Warehouse building into Breakwater, the adaptive reuse of the Saltus space into a fine restaurant with a pizza eatery  planned for the Bay Street side of the building, the reuse of the old Coca Cola bottling plant/Beaufort Realty building into Wren, the seemingly decrepit  retail stores on Scotts Street turned into the popular gathering place and eatery called the Old Bull Tavern,  Lowcountry Produce‘s adaptive reuse of the old Post Office and City Hall, and the currently in the works reuse of Fordham Hardware and we are seeing significant local investment to improve the quality of our product at a scale than matches our home town quality while reinforcing what is so special about our downtown.

If you’ve  read the City of Beaufort’s Civic Master Plan you will see that one of its goals for growing our core city is through infill and redevelopment which allows us to grow without losing our special sense of place and hometown authenticity.

Finally, the launching of the Beaufort Digital Corridor to the greater downtown will generate businesses that want to stay downtown as they mature out of the Corridor into larger spaces that accommodate their growth.

Nothing happens as quickly as we would like, but if you step a few steps back and look at the cumulative and complementary effects of these developments, you will see that Beaufort is making progress.

Thanks for all who have contributed so much to our present and laid plans for the future of our special hometown.

Finally, it should be noted that the Econo Lodge on the Boundary Street will soon be replaced by a Hilton Branded new hotel and there are two additional hotels in the works where the decrepit Dixie Mobile Home Park sat at the intersection of Highway 21 and Highway 21