The new Bluffton Gateway shopping center, scheduled to open at the intersection of U.S. 278 and S.C. 46 in early 2017, will be anchored by a Walmart Supercenter and a Sam’s Club. The two anchor tenants were recently released by Atlanta-based developer Jaz Development. The 66-acre site was home to a former printing plant that closed in the 1980s.

Monthly celebrates local businesses and communities with the 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards, the “best of the best” places to shop, dine and live, as voted by you, our readers.

We received 8,726 electronic ballots in our eight-week Readers’ Choice promotional campaign, intended to identify the top businesses in a wide range of categories. Want to find the best of the Lowcountry? You will find it here. The list of categories and winners is extensive. As you read over the list, we’re sure you will recognize your favorites among the many categories. We also expect you will find some unexpected and unknown venues. We encourage you to examine the list and visit these reader-selected winners to judge for yourself. And, if you don’t see a business or community listed here you think is deserving, be sure to vote in the 2016 Readers’ Choice campaign.

THE UNIQUE COMMUNITY SPIRIT ALONG BLUFFTON’S BEACH MAKES A TRIP TO THE BLUFFTON CHRISTMAS PARADE SOMETHING TRULY UNIQUE.

One of the many beautiful things about Bluffton is its people. And in a town known for its eclectic characters and Southern charm, none are more notoriously quirky than those living just outside town limits in Alljoy.

Alljoy is home to several descendants of the original families who moved to the area a long time ago to enjoy the bounty and beauty of the majestic May River. Harry and Antoinette All built the All Joy Hotel in 1926 and the area name came from it being Mrs. All’s pride and joy, her All Joy.

It’s been a long time coming, but the Calhoun Street Promenade is finally nearing completion.

Jerry Glenn, former owner of Cinnamon Bear Country Store and Legends Sports Gallery, is moving off Hilton Head Island and is set to open an eclectic country store named Reminisce in February.

blufftontowncBluffton Town Council will welcome two newcomers to Town Hall, as Dan Wood and Harry Lutz won seats in the Nov. 17 three-way candidate runoff.

Lutz overcame a 173-vote deficit from the Nov. 3 general election to oust incumbent Ted Huffman.

Wood, the leading vote getter from the first vote, led the way again with 723 votes (39.5 percent). Lutz garnered 623 votes (34.1) and Huffman won just 483 votes (26.4).

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley thought she coming to the Lowcountry for a Republican fundraiser on Nov. 12. That’s before U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio mentioned her as a potential vice presidential running mate at a Hilton Head campaign stop earlier in the day.

But Haley downplayed the latest flurry of rumors that have been circulating since the summer. She told the Beaufort County Republican Party that she is not considering such a move at this time.

The Hilton Head Area Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America and American Legion Post 49 will host a fellowship luncheon immediately following the annual Veterans Day ceremony held at the Shelter Cove Veterans Memorial at Shelter Cove Community Park.

“The members and auxiliary members of each organization will combine for this luncheon so that we can continue to enjoy the camaraderie of prior military service,” said Mike Danoff, president of the Hilton Head Area Chapter of the MOAA.

FINDINGS REBUT SKEPTICISM OF ARTS DETRACTORS

A recent study undertaken for Community Vision Hilton Head Inc., a local volunteer organization proposing development of a worldclass local performing arts center on Hilton Head Island, has found that such facilities are having a positive economic impact on similar communities across the United States.Funded solely by members of the nonprofit organization, the study was conducted this summer by University of South Carolina Beaufort researcher Catherine Moorman, who previously has worked on projects for the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing PGA Tour golf tournament, the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d'Elegance, and other South Carolina events.

LEGENDARY GOLF COURSE ARCHITECT RETURNED TO THE ISLAND FOR A SPECIAL DEDICATION CEREMONY

Traditional bagpipes rang out as members of Long Cove Club on Hilton Head Island gathered near the 18th green of the private championship course last month for a dedication ceremony honoring worldrenown golf course architects Pete and Alice Dye. The Dyes were honored for the impact they have had on golf and golf course architecture and were recognized for their creation of Long Cove Club’s nationally acclaimed golf course. The dedication ceremony included remarks by Bobby Weed, golf course architect and former construction crew chief for the Long Cove Club course project in 1980, and David Ames, one of the founders of Long Cove Club. They spoke of the Dyes’ comprehensive work in golf course design and, in particular, complimented them on their “spectacular design” of the Long Cove Club golf course.

As Hilton Head Island’s dilapidated Pineland Station shopping center comes down, new details are being released for its replacement, a new shopping mall called Sea Turtle Marketplace. Original plans for a gas station at the center of the shopping center have been scrapped. New plans unanimously approved by the town’s Design Review Board call for seven new buildings, new paths to U.S. 278 and a new parking lot.

cottages

Bluffton real estate investor Eugene Marks recently proposed developing six residential cottages and six mixed-use buildings on a three-acre lot he owns in the Stock Farm development in Old Town Bluffton. The cottages would be similar to the buildings located throughout Old Town, with metal roofs and wooden porches, and would range in size from 900 to 2,800 square feet.

The town of Bluffton is considering changes to development rules that would result in bringing the rapidly growing town more affordable housing. A draft of changes to the Unifie Development Ordinance was recently released. The change would encourage developers to build more affordable houses in a responsible way. In exchange for building new housing developments with the same materials used in “market-rate” units, builders would be allowed to place homes on smaller lots than currently allowed of “market-rate” homes. Changes to the UDO will be discussed further by Town Council during a workshop in January.

nonsmokingIn 2007, Beaufort County forced smokers to take it outside. Now, the town of Bluffton is just one step away from passing a smoking ban near the playground equipment at Dubois Park. Town Council gave preliminary approval for the ban in October. The code change is pending a final vote this month. If passed, smoking will be banned within a 50-foot radius of the playground equipment designed for children. Smoking bans on other current and future Bluffton parks will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

As one of the nation's fastest-growing towns, Bluffton is facing many challenges, from traffic congestion and a developing infrastructure to industry diversification and meeting the needs of a young community. How the town will address these challenges is up to the winners of the upcoming mayoral and Town Council races. 

The town of Bluffton is developing a plan to get rid of dilapidated and unsafe buildings within its city limits. The Affordable Housing Committee recently approved a tiered program to provide money to owners of property that city officials deem unsafe. Owners who report less than 80 percent of the town's median household income of $65,486 can apply for payment.

blufftonteensCould the Lowcountry be home to another “American Idol”? Three seasons after St. Helena Island native Candice Glover won the 12th season of the popular reality singing competition, two Bluffton teenagers have advanced to the celebrity judge round of the 15th and final season of the show.