Best Community Revitalization

The successful Wharf Street project in Bluffton, South Carolina, proves to local governments everywhere that affordable housing can be beautiful, smart, and right in the heart of town.

Wharf Street Community Bluffton South Carolina Blue House
51 Wharf Street. Photo: Christopher Shane

What Makes This a Winner

Location, Location, Location The original block on Wharf Street was wasting prime real estate on empty lots and vacant buildings. Within sight of the May River, in a historic district with an exploding population, the corner of Wharf and Robertson streets could have been a cookie-cutter developer's dream come true. Instead, the town joined with architects and builders to create livable, stylish spaces in the city center.

Affordability + Sustainability "These houses offer a fresh take on colorful, low-cost living while keeping their Southern bones," says Elly Poston. However, the homes please not only the eye but also the earth: They were built in an eco-friendly way using prefabricated materials. Inside, each one has energy-saving elements. It's a winning combination for building sturdy homes that will hold their value over time.

Lasting Results With a grant from the state and the plan put in place by local officials, this is a case of a town recognizing and solving a problem. "It's heartwarming to see these families living in their new neighborhood," says councilman Fred Hamilton.

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