HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) — The largest employer on Hilton Head Island is addressing the affordable housing problem impacting many of its employees. It could also be beneficial to college students.

“These are older, slightly used building properties on the South end of Hilton Head Island but they could soon be part of the solution when it comes to affordable housing and helping out University of South Carolina-Beaufort (USCB) students as they work to get into the business.

“Its really going to be the type of product on the South End of Hilton Head to give people options, which is what we need,” said Alan Wolf, SERG Group

that’s the goal of a proposed development on office way. It would take these buildings which only have a few tenants and create a new living environment for local workers.

“There are factors that work against them including land costs, including density so this is a unique adaptive way to take existing product that is already built,” Wolf said. “These are just old dilapidated commercial buildings and bring them back to life as something that is productive for the entire community.”

SERG Group is one of the partners in the project. Sixty percent of the people who work at the restaurant group on the island have a nearly hour long commute to get there every day.

SERG said instead of just complaining about the lack of housing for its staff. They joined forces with USCB to turn this area into 132 housing units, 16 of which would be dorms for USCB hospitality students who already take classes and work here.

“I think its a game changer also in the way students look at the university when they are finding or anticipating the choice they have of where am I going to school,” said Eric Skipper, USCB Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. “The scenario where they can live where they will be taking classes, where they will also be interning is a great opportunity for them.”

An opportunity that is life changing for many. One, two and three bedroom apartments with a price point hundreds of dollars less than anything else on Hilton Head, low enough that waiters, kitchen staff. Teachers and more can afford to live there.

“Of course SERG restaurant group wants to have housing for employees,” Wolf said. “We would probably stand in line with a lot of other employers to sign contracts to get access to that type of housing but it is designed to be available for the market so that anybody who wants some inventory has a shot and that’s’ what’s missing is the inventory and the availability.”

This is far from a done deal.

The town still has to get involved and work on the zoning for the buildings themselves and that the roads can handle the additional traffic. The hope is to get that finished in the next few months and get construction started and finished within the next two years.