Future Shem Creek development divides Mount Pleasant

By Stacy Jacobsonsjacobson@abcnews4.comMOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- A proposed office building and parking garage at Mount Pleasant's Shem Creek has presented Lowcountry residents with another battle between history and dealing with growth and development. A zoning ordinance change might prohibit the construction of the garage, but officials believed the office building would still be built.Many are worried Shem Creek's picturesque views could be obstructed."What this parking garage would do is become the predominant structure. You could see it from the creek," Mount Pleasant resident Joanna Ghegan said.Mount Pleasant officials said a developer came to them with a plan for an office building and parking garage on a lot near Red's in Shem Creek in 2013. Current zoning allowed for the new building and garage. It came as a relief to some."The parking condition is obviously rough. It's a little bit of a pain in the butt," Matt Theders said.But others said it would stain the skyline of the Shem Creek historic area."It would be an eyesore. It would be atrocious. But I obviously see the necessity for more parking," Mount Pleasant resident Davis Crosby said."The parking garage design I've seen is a brick structure with tall awnings. They are not in keeping with the Lowcountry feel," Ghegan said.Mayor Linda Page said she hadn't seen any designs or a finalized plan. She also said the town had studied parking and decided it was not financially savvy for Mount Pleasant to build its own public parking. Instead, officials planned to work with the developer."We entered in to our own license agreement to work with the developer who was going to build the building so we could get some extra parking spaces," Page said.But then town council changed the overlay district ordinance.

"So it's actually how far away it can be built from the street. We made it bigger so it's a larger setback. That larger setback decreases the size of those buildings, so it appears to us that the developer now will not be able to fulfill the licensing agreement," Page said.

According to the mayor, the developer told the city the change made it impossible to build the garage. Even so, she still expected the developer to continue plans for the office building.

Mayor Page said she wanted to reinstate a citizen design board that can work with town officials to approve new development projects and give the public more input on the future of Mount Pleasant.

ABC News 4 left a message for Avtex Commercial Properties but did not hear back. An email sent to an address on the developer's website bounced back.