The Town of Bluffton received a Municipal Achievement Award
(download high-res version)

The Town of Bluffton received a Municipal Achievement Award for its affordable housing project. Officials were presented with the award during the Municipal Association of South Carolina's 73rd Annual Meeting on July 20. The city won in the 10,001 - 20,000 population category. Thirty-three cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives.

The population of Bluffton has surged by 1,700 percent in the last 20 years. This sharp and sudden boom brought soaring land costs, making it almost impossible to build affordable homes within town limits. Worried about the impact of pervasive development on the outskirts of town and hoping to encourage growth in an underutilized area of Bluffton's historic district, officials pledged to redevelop run-down Wharf Street into affordable housing.

Numerous grants funded the project, including money from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and HOME funds. The town donated the parcel of land for the new homes. Although spearheaded by Bluffton officials, many partnerships-at the county, regional and state levels-were formed to ensure the project was a success. The public as well as the town's planning and historic preservation commissions played important roles in the project, providing volunteers and advice about maintaining the historical integrity of the neighborhood.

In the end, six modular homes were constructed on Wharf Street in the center of Bluffton's Old Town District. The environmental impact on the land and community was lessened by the modular construction process. These affordable homes were built to fit in with the historic nature of their surroundings, and took the place of two vacant lots. The modular homes feature energy-efficient mechanical systems and appliances which provide lower utility bills and maintenance costs to homeowners.

"Through this project, officials demonstrated that it is possible to integrate affordable housing into an existing city center-even a historic one," said Miriam Hair, executive director for the Municipal Association.

Achievement Award winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. More information and a video about the project are available on the Association's website

The Municipal Association of South Carolina initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.