The owner of a popular Port Royal seafood restaurant has been awarded $1.4 million in damages in his lawsuit against the S.C. State Ports Authority over a lease agreement for a parking lot.
Sammy Gray, the owner of 11th Street Dockside restaurant, filed the suit in 2007 after discovering some of the land the Ports Authority was renting to him that he used as a parking lot belonged to the town of Port Royal.
Gray said he was relieved that the lawsuit and this week's trial is over. It's been a "long time coming," he said.
According to testimony Wednesday, Gray signed an agreement to lease the property from the authority from 1996 to 2032, with an option to add 10 years. A 2006 land survey -- prepared as the Ports Authority attempted to sell its shuttered Port of Port Royal -- indicated most of the parking lot was owned by the town.
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The authority had been leasing that land from Port Royal and subleasing to Gray, but that agreement with the town expired in 1999, according to testimony.
In 2007, Gray attempted to sell his business to Tommy Oliva, who currently runs Dockside, according to testimony. That deal never was completed.
Without the additional parking area, Dockside's lot has room for only about 20 spaces, which is inadequate, Gray said in 2007.
An accountant testified that the total loss in value to Gray had been about $2.59 million.
Both sides have 10 days to file post-trial motions.
For more on the lawsuit, read Wednesday's story.
Check back with The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet for more details and follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.