Hilton Head Island — On an island known for its abundance, Robert Singleton Jr. owns a unique treasure. He lives in a very attractive piece of land and is wanted by the City Hall to purchase it.
Singleton, 48, guided visitors through the site, reaching out with a long arm toward the dozens of banana trees that dot the garden. “If you water it, it will grow,” he said. A bunch of yellow fruit hung over his head. This tells Hilton Singleton, who played basketball at Head High School, is over six feet tall.
“Sweet,” he said, smiling at the banana. “They are really sweet.”
Singleton can barely see the Marriott Surfwatch tower from the covered patio of the stilt house he’s lived in since 1997.
If you turn your head in another direction, you can only see the coastal forest. A palm tree somewhere in the middle marks the end of his 0.38-acre property, he said. He speculates that the land is large enough to build a few houses.
5 years ago, singleton barely successful I persuaded the town council to zone my land for a resort development. This meant owners could build apartment complexes, bed and breakfasts, and even resort hotels. That possibility made his fortune more valuable.
But it also worried his neighbors. One of those girlfriends, Tamara Becker (2017) talked In favor of restoring residential zoning throughout the neighborhood. She ran for town council as an independent.
An example of resort-style development looms large in Singleton’s horseshoe-shaped street called Bradley Circle.
In 2014, the town temporarily changed its zoning from residential to resort.
There are now three 10-bedroom vacation rental townhouses that are 75 feet tall and at least 7,000 square feet each. One morning in mid-August, a woman was sitting on one of her balconies reading a newspaper in the air above her family home, which occupies much of the Bradley Circle area.
and report Regarding the problem at the time, two of Singleton’s neighbors said the townhouse blocked the sun and created a safety issue.
Singleton sees a townhouse and sees another.
“The town will say you can’t build on a particular lot,” he said. “Then you can see that building.”
The realization that towns pick and choose who can profit from their land irritates him.
When asked if he felt the local government had people defending his interests, Singleton replied, “some.”
“Not enough,” added his 31-year-old son, Robert “Little Rob” Singleton III, who lives with him.
“It will be announced”
Singleton said several neighbors have inquired about purchasing his land since the clashes over zoning.
his Gala The family that helped settle the Chaplin area after the Civil War sold other properties. The land across the street from which Becker lived was owned by his great-aunt.
About 20 years ago, Singleton’s grandparents-in-law sold the lot as part of a deal between Marriott and the town. The sale brought Singleton’s relatives about $4 million. It made Marriott more.
Now, to get out on the street, Singleton drives down a bumpy pedestrian path that guides vacationers to the beach. When the breeze changes, it smells like sunscreen.
For Singleton, Marriott is a cautionary tale, one that warns him that his best asset isn’t worth losing.
“What else are you going to do? Buy a gas station or a liquor store? When the land is gone, it’s gone,” he told The Post and Courier.
When people approach him about the sale, Singleton said he sometimes feels as though he doesn’t want him there and takes it personally. But he keeps it unnerving.
“Maybe it’s frustrating at times,” said the son, who wore the same white undershirt and slip-ons as his father. “After a while, I was like, ‘I’ll let you know if I sell it.’ Do you know what I mean?”
the city calls
Last September, a senior adviser to town administrator Sean Colin left a voicemail suggesting the idea, even though Singleton has shown no interest in selling.
“I work directly for the town manager,” Colin said. “He contacted me and asked me to see if he would be interested in selling a property you owned…in the Bradley Circle area. If you fix it and let me know if you’re interested…if you’re interested, let’s keep the conversation going, if not, I’ll tell the town manager the answer is no.”
Singleton never answered.
However, we don’t know if the town is still looking to purchase his land.
On both July 19 and August 16, the term “Bradley Circle Area” was used in the headline “Discussion of Proposed Contractual Arrangements and Negotiations Accompanying Proposed Sale or Purchase of Assets.” Below appeared on the town council’s executive session agenda.
Citing the confidentiality of the executive session, the town manager, mayor and Singleton representative Becker declined to comment on the municipality’s interest in Bradley Circle. It remains unclear whether Becker, who lives in Bradley Circle, denied himself to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
When the council returned from a closed session on August 19, members voted for another property on its executive agenda, approving a resolution to enter into an option agreement to purchase 1.85 acres of Baygal Road for $550,000. . Nothing has been said publicly about the Bradley Circle.
It’s also unclear what the town will do with Singleton’s land, or why that goal negates the government’s investment in protecting Garra’s land.
On the one hand, town manager Mark Orlando, who agreed to speak generally about the land acquisition program, said the government strategically uses acquired property to add value to communities — Whether it’s a park buffer, a parking lot, an open space, or a beach park.”
The town owns more than 1,400 acres of land, Orlando noted. “Some are parked for preservation, others are used for the wonderful things that make this island so special.”
Meanwhile, the town’s call for the Singleton property contradicts one local government opinion. stated the top priority: Helping Native Islander families protect lands that have been owned for decades.
Mayor John McCann said in 2021, “Protecting the culture of Gala Geechee has long been a priority of the Town Council.” news releaseHe praised the town for expanding its land management ordinance “to help[the native islanders]families better protect their land for future generations.”
The lack of information throws in familiar stories of mistrust and discontent between local islanders and the town.
“We don’t know why they’re interested in Rob’s property.” Gala Geechee Land and Cultural Conservation Task ForceBut “this is not the first time.”
Stevens recalled other Gala families who had been contacted by the town and were in the process of selling. Others had families who did backdoor deals with towns, he said. Still others sold to individuals who turned around and sold the land to towns.
“So there were all sorts of scenarios where people lost their property, and at some point it seemed like the town was involved,” Stevens said.
Allowing indigenous islanders to hold onto their land is one of the reasons the town created Stevens’ Task Force. in 2019 report Regarding the task force, the town called the decline in the Gullah population “disturbing”.
Stevens said the town’s desire to help preserve the Gullah Geechee culture, combined with its willingness and ability to purchase land in the Gullah, puts the town in a unique position.
“Yes, they have put my task force and other efforts in place,” said Stevens. “But the town of Hilton Head owns the most land. So they put something (the Gullah culture) in a place to preserve it, but they are also part of the culprit.”
“People live here”
Kaitren Gretzinger, one of Singleton’s longtime friends, remembers thousands of birds living in Singleton’s neighborhood. Today the air there is mostly filled with the chirping of leaf blowers.
She observed that Singleton’s justification for property rights may also protect softer feelings.
“He loves his land and is very proud of it,” Gretzinger said. “He has hundreds of banana trees.”
Sure enough, when Singleton got up in the morning to talk about what happened at home, his voice became warm and smooth.
“Oh, beautiful, beautiful,” he said. i love squirrels ”
Singleton and his son looked around the garden. Hilton, unlike most of his heads, is not well maintained. Grass stubble piercing rows of bricks and spray of gravel around a pair of oaks created the impression of a circular driveway.On the patio, Singleton has an old chair for his two and a barbecue for his grill. is placed.
For Little Rob, what the town of Hilton Head wants is off the mark.
“People live here!” he said. It’s like, it doesn’t make sense. ”
He wants to live in his father’s house or move to the house built next door. Then he laughed and shrugged his shoulders.
Glancing at Singleton, he said, “That’s his land.”