MOUNT PLEASANT - After much debate, protest and speculation over his planned office building and parking garage near Shem Creek, developer Tex Small has submitted formal design plans to town planners.
Residents have packed recent town meetings to object to the building they contend would overpower Shem Creek, known for its water views and shrimp boats. However, until now few have known exactly what the building at Coleman Boulevard and Mill Street would look like.
The plans show a nearly 55-foot, four-story building that fronts Coleman with large windows and a glassed-in lobby. The building spans 43,662 square feet and includes 279 parking spaces altogether between parking enclosed by the building, a second-floor deck and outdoor surface parking.
The structure of the building is precast concrete that will be clad with clay brick, wood screens and wood soffit under its roof overhangs and at the entry ceiling, among other materials. Shadow lines will mimic wood shiplap siding, said Jeff Johnston of Mount-Pleasant based Stubbs Muldrow Herin architects.
"The materials to be used are taken directly from a Lowcountry palette," Johnston said.
The plans include two upper floors of office space and two lower floors of parking enclosed by the building. The enclosed first-floor parking extends along Mill beyond the rest of the building. The top of that extension forms a second-floor parking deck.
Of the 279 parking spaces, 120 would be reserved for the office tenants' use during daytime hours and then opened to the public at nights, weekends and holidays, peak times for the surrounding restaurants and bars. The remaining spots would be open to public use at all times.
"We don't need them," said Small, owner and CEO of AVTEX Commercial Properties. "We built them for the public. That was the whole purpose of them."
This spring, Town Council increased the property's setback requirements. That sent rumors swirling that Small no longer could construct the building under terms of a parking lease agreement with the town. That elated residents who oppose the structure.
However, Small's business partner holds the master lease on the entire tract between Mill, Coleman, Church Street and Shem Creek, he said. Therefore, Small moved some spaces lost to the larger setback requirements out onto a large, empty gravel parking lot between his planned building and the back of the Lighthouse on the Creek restaurant. There, 44 surface spaces would be paved and striped.
The parking lot and creekfront restaurants stand between the planned building and the water. Ten streetfront parking spaces would be added along Mill. The rest would be in the building and on the deck.
Small, developer of The Shops at Oakland, said he is considering options for the building's front on Coleman similar to the sweetgrass basket fountain at Oakland.
"I'd like to do something to honor the shrimping industry, no doubt about it," he said.
Councilman Chris Nickels said he has urged Small to include quality architectural elements in his design moving forward.
"There is a legacy here, and it's important to be a good neighbor recognizing where this is going," Nickels said.
The building's parking lease agreement marks a joint venture between the town and Shem Creek Development Group, which Small heads. Under the agreement, the town will pay $185,000 a year in hotel taxes for 15 years. After that, it will pay $1 per year for 15 years for the public parking.
The agreement aims to ease parking shortfalls around Shem Creek with its popular restaurants, bars and new marsh boardwalk. However, residents who feel its height would overpower the creek have strongly objected.
"I don't think it is good for the character of Shem Creek or the ambiance," said Councilman Gary Santos, a key building opponent. Jim Owens, another opposition leader, declined to comment until after the town's planning department has conducted its preliminary review, which normally takes about two weeks.
Small, an Isle of Palms resident, hopes to break ground around September to have the building completed in June 2015.
Reach Jennifer Hawes at 937-5563 or follow her on Twitter at @JenBerryHawes.
Courtesy STUBBS MULDROW HERIN architects The developer of a controversial planned office building and parking garage at Coleman Boulevard and Mill Street has submitted design plans to the town.×
Landscaping plans along Mill Street are being crafted but not yet approved by the Town of Mount Pleasant.×
Landscaping plans along Coleman Boulevard are being crafted but not yet approved by the Town of Mount Pleasant.×