A large Port Royal boat storage building will stay and a popular restaurant will receive a boost toward its return if the potential buyers close a deal to redevelop a large tract of waterfront property, town officials decided Wednesday.
Port Royal Town Council voted to allow the dry stack building to stay at the end of London Avenue near Port Royal's waterfront, changing a development agreement that called for the building to come down when the property sells. Council members also agreed to use a chunk of the insurance proceeds from a 2015 fire to help restore and reopen Dockside restaurant on 11th Street.
In the end, council decided the potential economic boost to the growing town with a small budget outweighed longstanding complaints about the look of the boat storage building and noise concerns.
“I apologize in advance if I don’t please everyone,” Councilwoman Mary Beth Heyward said before the vote. “We have to do what’s in the best interest of this town overall as a group and not certain areas.
I hope we can all live with those decisions.”
Council voted 4-0 to approve the changes to the development agreement. Councilman Tom Klein resigned Wednesday before the meeting, citing personal reasons not related to the property decision.
Included in the vote was direction for how to spend $1.8 million in insurance proceeds from a 2015 fire that burned the town’s seafood market and ultimately drove out Dockside. Most of the money will go toward public projects like roads and drainage.
Council agreed to use $200,000 in insurance money to restore and reopen Dockside, contingent upon a matching contribution from the buyers. The buyers had initially asked for more than $400,000 for the restaurant.
The money Dockside will generate in property and hospitality taxes and business license fees made the compromise worth it, Councilman Jerry Ashmore said.
The changes clear the way for the buyers, Gray Ghost Properties LLC, to close the deal with the state to buy and redevelop the 317-acre Port of Port Royal. The Department of Administration, which controls the sale, moved back closing to Aug. 21 to allow for the public votes, the buyers’ attorney David Tedder said.
The buyers will seek to move that date back again, Tedder said.
The sales price has been kept secret, but a developer kept in the loop by an unsuccessful bidder said the price was “economically viable by about half” of a $17 million deal with Port Royal Development Group that fell through in 2012.
Chris Butler, who owns Butler Marine on Lady’s Island and Charleston, wants to operate the dry stack as an extension of his business and is involved in the current effort develop the remaining property.
“The dry stack is one of the first building blocks we can have to generate interest, get people down there,” Butler said.
The Town Council’s makeup had changed since the development agreement was last updated in 2013.
Vernon DeLoach, a staunch opponent of the dry stack building, died in February. Jerry Ashmore was elected in 2015 to fill the seat of another dry stack opponent, Joe Lee, who spoke against the building Wednesday.
And Klein’s resignation left an empty seat. He had not publicly stated a position in the most recent debate over the building but sparred with the buyers’ representatives during a meeting in July.