Hurricane Matthew devastated this Beaufort Co. marina. Here’s the plan to bring it back

A Beaufort County marina hit hard by Hurricane Matthew more than two years ago is set to be rehabilitated under new owners.

Dataw Island property owners plan to buy the Dataw Island Marina and rebuild the facility on the Morgan River, on the northern end of the gated private community on St. Helena Island. The marina property is currently owned by real estate investment group Creekstone Companies.

The company had owned the marina since 2009 but agreed to sell after Matthew wiped out the wet slips, said Doris Volentine, vice president of development. Creekstone did some repairs but wasn’t able to rebuild all of the docks, she said.

“We had some trouble getting it to come back to life,” Volentine said. “... Creekstone loves the area; it’s just a wonderful place. We just feel like since the storm it’s really better that the homeowners association own it.”

Multiple renovation projects will begin after the deal’s expected closing in February, Dataw marketing and communications director Laura McCarthy said. Initial work will include cleaning up the property, a new landing for the forklift to transport boats to the water and a 420-foot dock to accommodate 25 tie-up slips for Dataw members and a limited number of transient boats, Dataw Island general manager and chief operating officer Ted Bartlett said.

More dock space could be added later as needed, he said. Sixty boats paid slip fees at the marina before Hurricane Matthew, and 26 boats tied up at the docks were lost to the storm, Bartlett said.

Two are still submerged and need to be recovered, he said.

More than 90 percent of voting members voted to approve the deal, Bartlett said.

“I can tell you that the community really got behind it,” he said.

Volentine and Bartlett declined to disclose the terms of the sale. A note to Dataw Isalnd Yacht Club members on the club’s website in October said the accepted offer was for $700,000.

“After two years of suffering through having no marina and watching the continuing deterioration of the marina site with extremely limited operations, there is now hope,” the blog post said. “... It is a stunning low price for the property and a compelling opportunity to begin to bring this painful episode to an end.”

The deal includes the boatyard and Sweetgrass Restaurant, both of which will continue to be overseen by their current managers, according to the release.

The 2016 storm destroyed the docks where transient and longterm boaters could tie up. The marina had boasted 83 wet slips on deep-water, concrete floating docks where the empty pilings now rise from the water.

A drystack storage operation and smaller docks to launch boats still remain, but Dataw Island property owners have been awaiting the return of a full-service marina. A planning committee recommended ebuilding the shoreline dock and refilling the drystack boat storage, the news release said.

Future projects will have to be reviewed by the property owners board and approved in a vote by members.

Before voting to approve the sale, the owners association researched various options, developed financial forecasts and consulted with multiple committees and focus groups.

Hurricane Matthew swept past Beaufort County in October 2016. Video captured by a passing boater shortly after the storm showed large chunks of missing dock, overturned sailboats and vessels pushed ashore by the powerful storm.

Stephen Fastenau covers northern Beaufort County as a reporter for The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet, where he has worked since 2010 and been recognized with state and national awards. He studied journalism and political science at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and lives in Beaufort.
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