The marina parking lot land belongs to the City of Beaufort. The people of Beaufort own that land. Not one square foot of that land should be handed over (by sale or lease) for development.
If the land must change, it is my opinion as a landscape architect that the parking should be relocated, and the land redesigned into a public lawn/ open space. The Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park needs additional open space. Where will the land come from in the future to benefit Bay Street merchants if the 4.3 acres of land is sold?
This marina parking lot land should become the equivalent of what Marion Square is to the City of Charleston. Almost every event in Charleston either begins, ends or takes place at Marion Square in downtown Charleston.
What if Mayor Joe Riley in Charleston had decided 25 years ago to sell half of Marion Square to create economic stimulus? Charleston would have no open space downtown for hosting events such as: The Southeastern Wildlife Expo, the Wine and Food Festival, the finish line for the Cooper River Bridge Run, and many other events.
Any of us could have advised the city to develop the parking lot land. This is the easy fix, the obvious fix, the short-sighted fix for economic stimulus.
I propose that the highest and best use for the marina parking lot land is to remain in the ownership of the citizens of Beaufort as an extension of the waterfront park.