Port Royal buys The Shed, plans to convert it into community hub

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Port Royal buys The Shed, plans to convert it into community hub

By JULIANN VACHON
jvachon@beaufortgazette.com
843-706-8184%09
Published Wednesday, March 30, 2011   |  397 Words  |  

Port Royal added The Shed property on Paris Avenue to its inventory of town-owned buildings Wednesday after closing on the $475,000 purchase.

Officials envision the site as a community center of sorts, featuring a visitors' welcome area and flexible space that could host artists, productions and other events.

Cleanup and improvement efforts are expected to start this week, town manager Van Willis said.

The closing came days after Port Royal Town Council met for its annual retreat and a special meeting where it approved a financing plan to purchase the property.

The Shed, at 809 Paris Ave., includes two buildings totaling about 13,000 square feet, the larger one between 8,000 and 9,000 square feet.

Council and residents at the retreat Saturday toured the building before members approved the sale, Councilman Joe Lee said Wednesday.

"As everyone says, the building has plenty of potential, but there's still a lot of work that needs to be done," Lee said.

To fund the purchase and initial improvements, council members will issue a $525,000 bond to be repaid over12 years from hospitality tax revenues.

Port Royal collects about $200,000 annually in hospitality taxes -- the 2 percent of gross food and beverage sales the town collects from restaurants, hotels, motels and other facilities. About a quarter of that will be used each year to repay the bond, officials have said.

The Shed was only one of a long list of topics council addressed Saturday, ranging from needed repairs at the historic Union Church, stormwater regulations, a funding request from the Lowcountry Estuarium, and implementing a county-wide, form-based code.

Members also discussed solid waste collection, which costs the town more than it collects in fees, Willis said.

The town loses about $1.50 per house per month on trash and yard debris pickup -- or about $25,000 to $30,000 a year, he said.

Officials discussed outsourcing trash pickup, but the town would have to retain public works employees anyway for debris collection and other general duties, Willis said.

The town is more likely to raise collection fees, Willis said.

Council members also discussed having Applied Technology and Management prioritize town-owned streets that need resurfacing based on condition, traffic volume and types of repairs needed. The study is expected to cost about $10,000 to $15,000, Willis said.