Mt. Pleasant panel rejects Cambridge Square project, tables Atlantic apartments

A developer plans 246 apartments and 14,000 square feet of retail space for this site on Ben Sawyer Boulevard, once home to WCIV, Channel 4. Traffic and growth issues have some in Mount Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island concerned about the development.

Two controversial apartment projects failed to get a lease on life Monday, as this town’s Planning Committee rejected one and tabled another.

Most of the more than 100 residents who packed the committee’s room were there for The Atlantic, a 246-unit apartment building planned where Ben Sawyer Boulevard opens onto the marsh between the town and Sullivan’s Island.

But the debate was cut short when committee members agreed not to delve into the details but to send the project back to the town’s Planning Commission, which deadlocked 3-3 on the plan last month. However, three of the commission’s members did not attend the meeting.

Councilman Paul Gawrych said he wanted to respect the process and have the commission produce a firm recommendation.

“This tomato is not ripe yet to be voted on,” he said. “There’s a chance for us to get a great project here, to get it right for the whole corridor.”

Fritz Sanger, who lives on Cove Bay Lane, said The Atlantic would be four times more dense than his neighborhood across the street.

“If something anywhere near this size is built, there has to be substantial changes to the road pattern and I’m not sure how that can be done.”

The four-member committee also unanimously rejected plans for Cambridge Square, a four-building, four-story apartment and retail complex proposed around the roundabout at Park West Boulevard and Grey Marsh Road.

The commission could consider the project — its traffic and drainage impacts, tree preservation, public paths and other specifics — when it meets in March.

The site originally was to become a large retail hub under the development’s plan created more than two decades ago, but developer Kevin Steelman, president of LandTech, said market conditions since have changed and the demand is now more for apartments. He said the density is allowed under the master plan for Park West and Dunes West.

“This is not really a rezoning,” he said.

Still, residents expressed concern about the traffic impacts and said the taller buildings would not blend with the surrounding homes.

After the vote, Councilman Chris Nickels said the best way forward might be for the developer to hold another planning session with the community — similar to the one that produced the original retail center plan several years ago.

“Maybe they would come out of there with something that’s going to be a lot more acceptable to folks as a whole,” he said.

Both of the projects will be voted on by council Feb. 10.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.