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Beaufort's Redevelopment Commission approved two separate contracts Thursday, the first a lease for the city-owned Carnegie Building, and the second for a new partnership Mayor Billy Keyserling said will help the city "take our comprehensive plan off the shelf and put it on the street."
The commission and the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce have agreed to a 10-year lease for the historic Carnegie Building at the corner of Port Republic and Craven streets.
The chamber will pay $1,000 per month for the building, which according to documents provided by the organization has about 2,628 square feet of useable space.
It will move its employees from the current location on Bellamy Curve to the building after making renovations. The chamber also plans to make meeting space on the 2nd floor available for public use, according to the agreement.
Beaufort will reduce to $500 a month while the organization makes the renovations.
The chamber began leasing The Arsenal -- which sits next to the Carnegie Building -- late last year and has since moved its visitors center there.
It had planned on moving employees to The Arsenal, board member Randall Burch said Thursday. However, moving them to the Carnegie Building instead will free up more space in The Arsenal to house civic and private events, along with public exhibits, Burch said.
"This allows the integration of our chamber and visitors center in one location," he said.
<strong>COMPREHENSIVE PLAN ADVANCES</strong>
The commission also approved a two-year contract Thursday with The Lawrence Group, an architectural, interior design and planning firm, to help implement the city's 2009 Comprehensive Plan.
Beaufort paid the group about $100,000 to help create the plan -- a state-required document that guides the city's growth and development -- last year and will now pay it about $697,000 over the next two years to put the plan in play.
The cost includes one full-time staff person, who will work from Beaufort's City Hall, and part-time support from two others, said Craig Lewis, managing principle at The Lawrence Group.
Redevelopment Commission Chairman Bob Pinkerton said The Lawrence Group has many skills in-house that will help it take the plan from paper to practice.
Traditionally the city would have to individually contract many of the services, such as engineering, planning and design work, officials said.
The city's comprehensive plan calls for a wide-scope of projects that touch on a variety of plans, some of which include redeveloping Beaufort's downtown core and diversifying development there; implementing a new form-based zoning code; increasing Beaufort's population; recruiting and retaining businesses; and partnering with local universities to expand programs and attract students.
"They hopefully can very efficiently pull projects together for us," Pinkerton said.