Merchants Cry Foul; Hilton Head Kills Commercial Building Idea


July 6, 2008

By Tim Donnelly – Island Packet

Plans for the redesign of the parking lot at the island’s main beach area no longer include a restaurant, store or other commercial building.

Hilton Head Island’s Public Facilities Committee last week recommended eliminating the commercial portion of the conceptual plan for the Coligny area it first approved in 2006. The town originally thought the building would be a good idea to provide a place for tourists to buy snacks and other supplies before heading to the beach.

But some merchants in nearby Coligny Plaza protested, saying the town shouldn’t be competing with private shopkeepers. After thinking about it, the committee members agreed.

“On balance, I think it’s more trouble than it’s worth,” Councilman Drew Laughlin said.

Chairman John Safay, who represents the Coligny area, said he had changed his position on the proposal after hearing complaints from merchants.

“I think it would be a mistake,” he said. “It’s not the town’s business to get involved in a commercial establishment of that nature.”

The 5,000-square-foot building still is included in the redesign of the area, but will instead contain only restrooms and office space. The building is part of the overall renovation of the Coligny area that will include adding about 100 spaces to the parking lot, building a park on town land and linking the whole area with walking paths. The town owns the land where The Smokehouse and Legendary miniature golf course are located, and they would eventually be torn down to make room for the park.

But the project still is a ways off. It won’t get under way at least until the first phase — reconstructing the beach park entrance — is completed sometime before next summer.


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