The Boulevard Phase 2 gets initial approval

Cars are parked along King Street outside the entrance to The Boulevard. (Photo/Andy Owens)
Cars are parked along King Street in Mount Pleasant outside The Boulevard. (Photo/Andy Owens)

By Andy Owens
aowens@scbiznews.com
Published July 14, 2014

Mount Pleasant Town Council voted to approve the next phase of a mixed-use development on Coleman Boulevard as a way to also address parking problems they say The Boulevard is creating in surrounding neighborhoods.

The impact assessment and conceptual plan for the 106-unit second phase of The Boulevard received approval last week with several conditions. One requires the developer to build curbs and sidewalks on King Street at the beginning of the project — instead of the end, as is customary — to discourage parking along the street.

The approval passed first reading 7-2 with councilmen Paul Gawrych and Gary Santos voting no. Two readings are required for final passage.

The Boulevard viewed from King Street in Mount Pleasant. (Photo/Andy Owens)
Currently residents of The Boulevard (pictured) can pay to park in the project’s garage, but Town Council members say many are parking along King Street. (Photo/Andy Owens)

Much of the discussion surrounding the next iteration of The Boulevard concerned a phasing out of paid parking for tenants and the opening of free tenant parking at The Boulevard’s Phase I.

Tenants can pay for parking at the development’s on-site parking garage, and about 200 do, but several on Town Council expressed concern that some Boulevard residents are parking on nearby streets and in neighborhoods to avoid the extra cost. This morning, several cars could be seen parked along King Street near the back entrance to The Boulevard. Such parking is legal, as the streets are within the public right of way.

Councilman Chris Nickels said he wanted guarantees that parking would be free for tenants of both phases of The Boulevard.

“I would not look kindly on a situation where another parking garage is built — this one really much, much larger — and a charge being instituted only to have folks say, ‘You know, I don’t want to pay that. I’ll just go park in somebody’s, essentially, their front and side lawns,’” Nickels said.

Councilman Mark Smith said he has walked down King Street and talked to residents who live on the section between Pherigo Street and Fairmont Avenue.

“It was and is horrific as it is now,” Smith said. “While I’m not thrilled and excited about this project, I am thrilled and excited about the correcting a wrong in my opinion that was done to begin with, with allowing less than one parking space per unit. It is a significant issue over there with parking. Cars are everywhere.”

Though the first phase of The Boulevard was built with fewer than one parking space per unit, the second phase will be built with one space per bedroom, said Jason Munday, a civil engineer with Seamon Whiteside & Associates and spokesman for the project. When the second phase is completed, the project will have 430 living units and 728 parking spaces, Munday said.

“The developer has indicated and assured me that they are not charging for parking,” Munday said. “The issue they’re working out now is they have current tenants that have paid for parking. So they have to work out a reasonable, fair way to roll out charging for parking and roll it into the rent.”

Munday pointed out that of the current 277 tenant parking spaces, 200 are rented, so he thinks parking along King Street is more a matter of convenience.

“There are people that are paying for parking,” Munday said. “What I want to stress is some of the issue isn’t the paying for parking. The issue is a convenience issue with proximity to where you live.”

Munday said the developer of The Boulevard has requested that tenants not park on King Street, but that cannot be enforced because it’s a legal right of way.

Several council members suggested other ways to discourage parking, such as construction barriers or no-parking signs, but Town Administrator Eric DeMoura said the town would have to get approval from the S.C. Department of Transportation to put up no-parking signs, which is unlikely.

“The challenge, obviously, for us is we want to protect the citizens,” Mayor Linda Page said. “You know we want to get a good project that’s the least impactful we can have. I just want to make sure as we go forward that they have a good-neighbor relationship and everyone understands that relief is going to be asked for.”

The final plan that was approved requires the developer to pay for a right-turn lane from Pherigo Street onto Coleman Boulevard; an extra bike rack; installation of sidewalks, curbs and gutters, including at the beginning of the project on King Street; no charge for future and existing tenants to park at the parking garages; and temporary free surface parking during construction.

Gawrych said the town can withhold the project’s certificate of occupancy until every aspect in the approved plan is complied with.

“No one is going to be moving into this until all of this is completed,” Gawrych said.

Reach Andy Owens at 843-849-3142.

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