HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) — What are currently just empty lots and wooded areas could soon be the key to helping deal with the workforce housing problem on Hilton Head Island.

It all starts with RFQ’s or Requests for Qualifications. The town opened up for those requests on Friday.

“Our target is about 100 units, some mix of multi-family single-family different income levels,” said Josh Gruber, Asst. Hilton Head Town Manager.

Income levels make up much of the Island’s workforce, but workers who cannot afford to live in most of the available homes here.

Those are the people the Town hopes to serve by offering up some of its land to developers, who could then build places to live at a fair price for families

“One of the biggest impediments we see is just the cost of land here on the Island which is understandable,” explains Gruber. “So with the Town looking to contribute the land to the project that might be the lynchpin to get the project off the ground moving forward.”

The Town provides the land, in this case, 10 of the nearly 13 acres of the North Pointe tract near the post office.

The developers then come in with their best plans for the homes and townhomes that will be affordably priced for the medical workers, public service workers, restaurant workers and teachers in the area.

“We anticipate being several different income levels within this development,” says Gruber. “Could be 80% of the median income to 150% of the median income because those all represent some level of workforce on the island.”

Gruber says the developers will have to prove they are the right ones for the job in several ways.

“Show us the projects you have done somewhere else successfully so we can look at them and say this is the one that works best for us,” explains Gruber.

“Do they have the experience? Do they have the team do they have the ability to bring a project like this together. What we are looking for is someone with that kind of experience and also the vision for this project. It’s not just building a house it’s building the right neighborhood.”

Town Manager Marc Orlando said this is an opportunity to bring onboard the most qualified partner to help the Town achieve its housing goals for the Island and its workforce.

“We need a partner that complements our vision and presents a well-thought-out proposal that makes efficient use of land, energy and water resources, and environmentally responsible building materials,” he said.

There will be discussions about density changes, how many units can be placed on a parcel of land, as well as price. Right now everything is up for discussion and Gruber says nothing has been decided yet.

While it’s a plan that’s worked in other cities, this would be a first for Hilton Head Island. Gruber says local and regional developers have already called, interested in this first step toward improving the workforce and the island as a whole.

The RFQ’s must be finished by May 20. From there the Town will break it down to finalists for in-person interviews.

The hope is to have someone chosen by the end of the Summer.

The town is advertising the RFQ through the S.C. Business Opportunities website and the town’s procurement portal.

For more information about the RFQ for the public-private partnership for housing, call Rich Groth, Procurement Officer, at 843-341-4711 or email at richg@hiltonheadislandsc.gov.