The quaint, colorful kiosks looked like prisoners of a development war Tuesday morning, secured behind hurricane fencing at the corner of Mallery Street and Beachview Drive.
And it is beginning to look like these popular little buildings in the Pier Village on St. Simons Island will not get a reprieve from the wrecking ball after all.
Chris Beaufait thought he had devised a rescue plan. He bargained a set price with the property owner to buy all 15 of the cute little huts. He was going to haul them safely away to land he owns on the island. There they would stay until new owners came along: businessfolks needing office space, artists needing a studio, a backyard fort for kids, or an adult shed of the she or he variety.
Then the experienced mover he chose came over and took a look last week.
“I have to blame math on this, numbers and geometry,” Beaufait said.
They may appear wee and cozy as a shopping destination, but these kiosks present big problems on the streets of St. Simons Island.
“They’re so much larger than we anticipated,” said Beaufait, a longtime islander and owner of Monkeywrench Bicycles.
Add the steps leading up to the cute mini shop, and you are suddenly looking at some formidable dimensions to transport over the island’s unique roads, he said. From the bottom to the roof, each kiosks stand 18 feet tall. He thought about laying them flat on their backs on the trailer bed. But they are nearly 10 feet wide at the front door and 12 feet deep from there to back wall. Add the overhanging eaves for a couple of additional feet.
“The potential was very much limited by oak trees and power lines,” Beaufait said. “By the time the mover got involved that’s when he started impressing us with his knowledge of math and local laws. It comes down to a game of inches and you just can’t make those inches disappear.”
The kiosks once comprised the Pier Village Market, a popular spot with shops for clothing, jewelry, haircuts, frozen treats, art and other items. Preparations for demolition of the kiosks began Tuesday. The property’s owner is making way for a 20,000-square-foot, two-story museum on the spot. The Greek Revival style building will house the extensive Old West art collection of Philip Anschutz, owner of the property and also owner of Sea Island Resort. The museum also will include American Revolution and Civil War art, as well as Gullah Geechee works and other locally representative art.
Beaufait has a standing agreement with Anschutz’s people to remove the kiosks for safe keeping.
“I’m going to remain hopeful right up to the last minute,” he said.
While Beaufait has not given up hope, he is eager for ideas. Like, now. Feasible ideas.
“They really are cool big buildings, just masquerading as cool little buildings,” he said. “If somebody could school me on what would work, that would be great. The only thing I can see that will help is a helicopter and federal funding.”
Beaufait can be reached at 912-634-5551.