Striking Balance - ICONIC
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Striking Balance

Striking Balance

As a lover of exploring the world of real estate development, Spring break is always an exciting time for me. It presents a perfect opportunity to witness how developers approach various factors that impact their project’s success and prepare for the future, all while spending quality time with the ones you love. This year, my family and I sought refuge on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, to relax (and indulge my professional curiosities).

Hilton Head Island is well known for its picturesque beaches, world-renowned golf courses, and breathtaking natural beauty. However, it was the island’s rich history of real estate development that captured my attention, particularly its unique focus on conservation efforts and retail development. For decades, the island’s leaders have implemented strict building codes and ordinances to safeguard the natural resources while promoting retail real estate development.

The island’s priority on environmental conservation is evident through its comprehensive tree preservation ordinance, which safeguards trees from being cut down, and building codes that mandate sustainable features such as low-flow toilets, energy-efficient appliances, and solar panels. What sets Hilton Head Island apart is its island-specific taxes, which fund conservation efforts. The hospitality tax, a one percent fee added to receipts, finances beach renourishment projects, public park improvements, and other conservation efforts, while developers are required to pay a green space fee, which goes towards purchasing and conserving land. Retailers are also faced with sign restrictions and strict lighting regulations. For instance, McDonald’s signage appears in a sand color, lacking the iconic red and yellow, and significant setbacks and highly landscaped centers further complicate visibility. It got me thinking, as we become increasingly digitized, can we develop productive real estate that’s more visually appealing and respectful of nature, given the inverse relationship between GPS route guidance and signage? Can we strike a balance between natural beauty and highly visible destinations vying for our attention as we drive around?

Despite these restrictions, Hilton Head Island has witnessed significant growth and development, with notable retail developments emerging over the years. One of the most significant retail developments on the island is Shelter Cove Towne Centre, built-in 2014, featuring retail shops like Lululemon, J.Jill, and Francesca’s, restaurants, and residential properties. The development had to adhere to strict design guidelines, incorporate sustainable features like green roofs, and employ energy-efficient lighting in line with the island’s conservation efforts.

In conclusion, Hilton Head Island’s unwavering commitment to environmental conservation has significantly influenced its real estate development. Its unique building codes, island-specific taxes, and ordinances have placed limitations on developers, requiring them to prioritize sustainability and conservation in their projects. Nonetheless, the island has witnessed significant growth and development, with notable retail developments emerging over the years. As Hilton Head Island continues to evolve, its commitment to environmental conservation will play a pivotal role in shaping its growth and development in the future. My Spring break on Hilton Head Island provided not only a much-needed break but also a new perspective on real estate development and conservation efforts.

Thank you for reading.

Kees Janeway – Managing Partner, ICONIC Real Estate