Public forum on downtown Beaufort nightlife, parking

Public forum on downtown Beaufort nightlife, parking

BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) - Beaufort residents learned more about potential development in the downtown area at a town forum Monday night.

Community leaders are looking at the availability of entertainment after hours and more places to park.

Monday's forum was an opportunity for residents to hear directly from key players in the development of downtown Beaufort, focusing on two components: parking and nightlife entertainment.

"I was told I want to shut down the bar business, turn them into condos and sell them to rich old folks. Nothing can be further from the truth," said Dick Stewart, 303 Associates.

Stewart has created some properties in the downtown area, but some residents are complaining that nightlife is messing with their quality of life and they want to take action.

"A lot of circulating on social media, misinformation, people are trying to shut bars down when in fact it's a situation of being a good neighbor. So, after 11 or 12, when you close it's time for the patrons to leave, stop drinking outside after they've closed, some fights have occurred, creating a big problem," Stewart said.

Members on Monday's panel say it's a matter of compromise.

"I would like to see a really energetic place to go visit as a visitor to come downtown or as a person who lives here and find great things to do, early evening and late evening, but not early morning," said Stewart.

But if you increase foot traffic downtown, that means more cars on the streets which is already a problem for downtown.

"Right now we may be seeing a shortage of parking, we may be seeing small clusters of parking being located throughout the community instead of a more centralized parking area," said William Barnwell, a regional sales manager for Structured Parking Solutions.

Developers say you must have the infrastructure in place first before you can expand and develop, so there is some discussion going on behind the scenes to expand public parking. Even considering a public parking garage.

Copyright 2017 WTOC. All rights reserved.