Office, garage project may move ahead, just without town subsidy

A rendering of the planned office building and parking garage at Coleman Boulevard and Mill Street.

MOUNT PLEASANT — A plan to spend about $3 million in town money to subsidize a parking garage on Shem Creek is expected to be undone tonight.

Councilman Paul Gawrych said he will move that council terminate its agreement with developer Tex Small to give him a slice of the town’s hotel tax income in exchange for allowing public parking in an office and parking garage he is developing at Church and Mill streets.

The town approved the deal last year, but Small since has indicated he did not plan to build as many parking spaces as originally envisioned, and Gawrych said council members seem unwilling to amend it.

That’s partly because while the garage deal raised little fuss when it was approved, residents around Shem Creek later rallied to try to kill it. They even formed a nonprofit group Save Shem Creek, which has urged its members to attend the council meeting that starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Gawrych noted that the project still can move ahead — but without town money.

“This vote tonight is not about a parking garage. Right now, the applicant has approval to build a building,” he said. “What I’m doing is making sure public money is not involved. We’re going to end this partnership. It’s unhealthy moving forward with all we want to do in the town of Mount Pleasant.”

The town had agreed to give Small about $2.77 million in accommodation tax money over the next 15 years if he would build a larger garage that could be used by Shem Creek visitors at night and one weekends — when office workers don’t need the spaces. The developer was allowed to charge for the spaces, and if the garage proved profitable, the town’s payments could drop.

The 2013 deal was heralded at the time as a public-private partnership that would help address parking congestion at the popular restaurant and nightlife spot, but public support for it began tanking last year.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.