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​Two Streetscapes – One Historic District: Two Streetscape Projects Unify Bluffton’s Historic District Providing Walkability and Connectivity

The Town of Bluffton has grown rapidly in recent years. Counting 750 residents in 1998, it now has nearly 20,000. With this growth, the downtown core known as the Bluffton Historic District has surged in popularity, underscoring the need for the town to improve its walkability, accessibility and connectivity.

The town completed two streetscape projects in 2018: one for May River Road and another for Dr. Mellichamp Drive, which parallels May River Road to the north. These projects established the two locations as gateways, adding 220 parking spaces, 98 street lights, nearly 5,000 linear feet of sidewalks, benches and improved stormwater drainage. The projects also help provide safe pathways compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act from one end of the district to the other. Additionally, the town installed a device known as a Stormceptor to prevent hazardous materials like oil, grit and other pollutants from reaching the May River.

Of the $6.3 million cost of the streetscaping, hospitality tax dollars covered about half, while the town used a combination of accommodations tax, stormwater utility fees, municipal improvement development funds, general fund money and capital improvement program funds. The project also included a grant from the SC Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. 

The public investment in the business core has spurred private investment, with one developer renovating a blighted shopping center. In its next steps, the town will enact a streetscaping project for Calhoun Street, the town’s primary street, and will also complete the year-long renovation of Bluffton Town Hall. 

Contact Debbie Szpanka at or 843.706.4534.