MOUNT PLEASANT — Because of the recession, developer Richard Coen's plans for a 100-room hotel and medical office building on Shem Creek have been scaled down to a space for weddings, concerts and other entertainment events.
"It's hitting Mount Pleasant really hard because our economy was so real estate dependent," Coen said.
Three years ago, Coen's original plans for the 3.2-acre property offered the opportunity to own a luxury condominium. Four-diamond hotel-type service, a 1-acre tropical garden, poolside massages in a private cabana and a waterfront restaurant were among the amenities planned for a 165-condominium project.
Today, Coen is taking a wait-and-see attitude toward his larger-scale plans for the Shem Creek waterfront property located next to Coleman Boulevard.
He anticipated that it will be at least two years before he re-evaluates whether to go forward with the hotel project.
"When everybody gets a little clearer view of what's ahead of us related to the economy," he will revisit the future of the strategically located tract, he said.
The land is the former site of the Trawler, a historic restaurant that burned after more than 30 years in business. Coen reopened a restaurant there called Big Game that has since been closed.
His new venture on the property, The Landing on Shem Creek, has 9,000 square feet of indoor space for a dance floor, band and dinner parties.
Its many windows facing the creek are set in panels that slide up into the ceiling like garage doors, creating an open-air venue with an additional 2,000 square feet of patio space and a bar, Manager John McElroy said.
The Landing is another chapter in the evolution of Shem Creek, considered the historic centerpiece of town with its restaurants, bars, an inn and shrimp boats.
Other big changes are on the way for the creek. The town of Mount Pleasant purchased 43 acres of creekfront for $6 million that extends from Vickery's to near Charleston Harbor.
The town is in the early stages of developing a master plan for the land. Ideas floated so far for the property include a marsh boardwalk to a hummock island connected by more boardwalk to a dock.
Coen's creek property has been a place for some big parties. In 2006 the Charlie Daniels Band played on a barge in the creek, the sort of set-up that management of The Landing at Shem Creek is contemplating.
Having a party barge on the creek creates a tiered effect like a creekside amphitheater because the dockside patio and open-air building progressively rise up from the water, McElroy said.
The Landing at Shem Creek already has hosted some music events, including the Blue Dogs, a popular Charleston-based band.
McElroy said the building accommodates about 1,000 people, which is like the size of nightclubs such as the Music Farm and the Pour House.
The Landing at Shem Creek is the second rental venue to regularly host entertainment events and weddings on the creek. Nearby Cottage on the Creek does the same sort of thing.
Shem Creek noise has been an issue for residents of the nearby Old Village who have complained to Town Council in the recent past about the decibel level of parties and music.
McElroy said he is well aware of the town's noise ordinance. One advantage of the new facility is that events can be held completely indoors to cut down on noise, he said.
Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.