News

A 35-acre cleared parcel on Bluffton’s Buckwalter Parkway will eventually become Washington Square, a development with retail, residential and office spaces. On the west side of Buckwalter near Berkeley Place, it will feature 36 apartments above businesses, a locally sourced grocery market, an 80-room hotel, an assisted-living facility and more. Washington Square is still in the early stages of construction and development.

Initial data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety has shown that tree-clearing along 34 miles of Interstate 95 has already saved lives. The clearing was completed in April 2019, and total tree-related collisions dropped almost 60% between 2018 and 2019. In 2019, no one was killed after crashing into a tree along the highway. 

The town of Bluffton has plans to turn a 760-acre parcel of undeveloped land into a large public park. Plans include an open-air picnic shelter, more than 4 miles of hiking and biking trails, and kayaking and canoe trails along the New River. Plans also call for two camping sites. The town council is expected to vote on the proposal in the coming months. 

The 134-year-old St. James Baptist Church on Hilton Head Island has to leave its original property because it’s at the northern end of the airport’s newly expanded runway. In 2018 the airport finished a 700-foot runway addition. Making the runway longer allowed larger planes to land there — but also extended the federally mandated “runway protection zone” over both St. James and the Old Cherry Hill School. St. James Church is the oldest continuously-operating cultural institution remaining within Mitchelville, the north-end village established for freed slaves in 1886, according to church leaders. The town’s plan is to purchase the school and St. James, relocate the schoolhouse building in its original form, and build the new church, according to town materials. 

ARCHAEOLOGY PROJECT HOPES TO FILL IN GAPS IN HISTORY

As a child growing up on Hilton Head Island, Thomas Barnwell Jr., saw his dad let people break off souvenir pieces of a tabby ruin that sat, crumbling, on their Squire Pope Road property. Today, the University of South Carolina Beaufort and the Barnwell family have partnered in an archaeology project that sees the tabby ruin as a key to the past.

HILTON HEAD PREP STUDENTS DONATE BLANKETS

As part of their annual winter outreach program, students from Hilton Head Preparatory School’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes made dozens of fleece blankets for the Sandalwood Community Food Pantry to be given to those in need. The students also delivered the blankets to the recipients. 

PERFORMING ARTS CENTER PLANNED IN BLUFFTON

Two local organizations have teamed up to bring a performing arts center to Bluffton.

Live Oak Christian Church and Main Street Youth Theatre are combining their efforts to build a cultural arts center on property the church owns near Old Town Bluffton. The 400-seat venue, leaders of both groups say, will have a variety of uses, from housing the church to theater productions by local and national talent, plus uses by other local organizations.

HILTON HEAD OFFICIALS FOCUS ON PEDESTRIAN SAFETY AHEAD OF NEW PARK OPENING

New life was breathed into Hilton Head Island’s midsection thanks to Shelter Cove Towne Centre, a resort village-style retail center fashioned from a nearly abandoned suburban-style mall. With apartments overlooking Broad Creek, a waterfront park, restaurants, boutiques and walking paths, Shelter Cove has become a popular gathering place with an energetic atmosphere. 

The Beaufort County School District held two groundbreaking ceremonies in January for the first two referendum-funded projects at River Ridge Academy and May River High School. The projects will cost over $25 million and construction is expected to conclude late-summer 2020. Four new classrooms are being built on each of two existing wings at River Ridge, and a new eight-classroom wing also is being added for a total of 16 new classrooms. At May River High, a new two-story wing containing 23 classrooms is under construction. 

parkerBeaufort native Ron Parker announced his retirement from the NFL in January. The defensive back played for the Kansas City Chiefs for the past five years. He gave no indication for what’s next, including for the annual football camp he hosts each year in Beaufort.