After losing a zoning dispute with the Town of Mount Pleasant, the owners of an undeveloped property off Long Point Road are proposing a plan that could bring a hub for technology businesses to the East Cooper suburb.
George Sarkis this week informed a handful of Town Council members of a plan to build an office campus near a Chick fil-A restaurant in the Belle Hall area. The owners of the property, Sarkis and Roberta Gosselin, hope to attract both established tech businesses and local startups to the development, which will also feature new retail space.
The project, still in its early phases, would be similar to Pacific Box and Crate, a tech campus on Charleston's upper peninsula where companies such as BoomTown, EngageTalent and Palmetto Solar operate alongside a food court and brewery, said Councilwoman Kathy Landing.
It would rival the size of the 92,000-square-foot Charleston Tech Center, under construction on Morrison Drive on the peninsula.
Today, Mount Pleasant lacks this kind of development.
The land is in an unincorporated area of Charleston County. It is the former site of a concrete plant and has been mostly empty since Sarkis and Gosselin bought it for $5.3 million in 2013.
"Finally we have a project that I think the owners of the land and the developers are excited about," Landing said. "There's a lot of good things that can come from this."
Landing said the vision for the development is to give workers the option of walking to restaurants or shops and provide ample parking. She said the plans also call for space for a business incubator.
Sarkis told a town committee that the development would include 90,000 square feet of office space in two buildings and roughly 20,000 square feet of retail space. Sarkis and Gosselin, who live on Daniel Island, would invest $30 million in the development. No financial commitment would be needed from Mount Pleasant.
Elected officials at Monday's meeting supported the deal.
"There is a lot the town will offer," Councilman Tom O'Rourke said. "It's going to be a great partnership."
Relations between Sarkis and Gosselin's company, Long Point Cooper Investment Group, and the town have not always been rosy.
In 2014, the company sought to have the land annexed and rezoned but was denied after residents of the neighboring Belle Hall subdivision opposed the request.
A lawsuit against the town ended up in federal court in 2016. The owners alleged that Town Council's denial was unfair and diminished the property's value. In a deposition Sarkis said the ownership was losing between $70,000 and $80,000 a year on the property as it sat undeveloped.
U.S. District Court Judge David Norton ruled in favor of the town last April.
The legal dispute didn't hinder new plans for the land. Landing said she approached Sarkis and Gosselin with the idea of creating a tech campus on the property about two years ago.
The development would not include any new residential units.
Gosselin said the goal is to target innovative businesses as tenants.
"It would be really focused on the tech industry," she said.
The property would need to be annexed into Mount Pleasant for the plan to move forward, and Gosselin said the blueprint is subject to change.