Shem Creek deals could improve public access and add more parking
MOUNT PLEASANT — Town Council seems certain to approve two new deals with several private property owners that promise to make Shem Creek an even more bustling place.
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Mount Pleasant Town Council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in its chambers, 100 Ann Edwards Blvd.
The first agreement is between the town and a few property owners along the northwestern side of Shem Creek.
It would open that existing private boardwalk to the public — providing a new pedestrian link between Coleman Boulevard and the town’s new Shem Creek Park — in exchange for the town’s help rebuilding and maintaining the privately-owned boardwalk.
The second is another public-private arrangement that would provide more public parking on the other side of the creek.
A private developer plans to build a new office building at Church and Mill streets, and under this agreement it would build a larger garage in exchange for about $2.77 million from the town over the next 15 years
Councilwoman Thomasena Stokes-Marshall said parking is becoming a greater problem around Shem Creek, adding, “If we don’t have sufficient parking there, it’s going to make it an unpleasant experience.”
The idea is to create a public parking garage that the town doesn’t have to build, operate or maintain. “I’m not into the government running parking garages,” Town Councilman Chris Nickels said.
A certain number of parking spaces would always be available for public parking, and after-office hours — when Shem Creek’s bar and restaurants hit their peak — the entire garage would be open to the public.
Town Administrator Eric DeMoura said the garage also would allow new development on some smaller nearby properties that currently can’t meet the town’s parking requirements.
“The parking garage would count toward that parking,” he said. “Not only will this help spur development around Shem Creek, but it also will spur economic activity in that general vicinity.”
DeMoura said the town’s money will come from the town’s accommodations taxes, and the developer will decide how much to charge the public for parking there.
If the garage proves profitable, the town’s payments could drop.
There also is town money involved in the boardwalk agreement.
Once Town Council gives its OK, the town will seek a state permit for rebuilding the private boardwalk and creating a new link over a side creek so it can be joined with the existing Shem Creek Park boardwalk.
That’s a $1.5 million project that could start as soon as next summer and be finished a year later, DeMoura said.
The two private owners would continue to own the boardwalk and decide who has to pay and how much to dock a boat there.
“The beauty is it creates public access forever down one whole side of Shem Creek, and that has never been done before,” DeMoura said. “It’s really a win-win for all parties.”
Both agreements passed unanimously before a Town Council committee last week and are up for final approval when full council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
“Partnerships are the way to do these things,” Mayor Billy Swails said.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.