Restaurant Owners Pitch Isle Of Palms Marina Parking Plan

By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News

The Isle of Palms City Council has discussed a wide array of issues concerning the proposed transfer of two leases at the IOP Marina, from beer and wine sales to the financial condition of the company that is attempting to buy the leases and from the establishment of a boat club to the availability of live bait. One of the most contentious issues, however, among Council members and local residents, has been parking: who can leave their cars, trucks and trailers where and how much, if anything, they’ll have to pay to do so. The two leases, which someday might be transferred from current Marina Manager Brian Berrigan to Mike Shuler, manager and principal investor of 32 North, have been amended a total of a dozen times. There appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel on the parking issue, though. The owners of Islander 71, the restaurant that opened at the Marina earlier this year after a massive renovation of the building that housed its predecessor, have come up with a plan they say will increase the number of parking spaces by 25%, give the city more control over parking and increase the amount of green space along the Intracoastal Waterway. The owners of the restaurant, Jon Bushnell and Dave and Chrissy Lorenz, met with a small group of local residents Aug. 19 to receive feedback about their parking proposal. The plan would include giving the restaurant control over what is now referred to as shared parking, which would provide the restaurant with the 82 parking spots it is required to offer its patrons. In exchange, the city would take over

the part of the shared parking lot west of the public dock and the contiguous lot currently used for employee parking – an area large enough to accommodate 61 cars and 14 golf carts, according to Bushnell. “The community can decide the best use of that area,” Bushnell said. 

Green space would run alongside both parking areas, from beyond the public dock to the restaurant. Former IOP Council Member Randy Bell, a participant at the Aug. 19 meeting, said once a drainage issue is fixed along 41st Avenue, IOP residents will be able to park cars and trailers in that area. Non-residents may park there after 6 p.m. “We tried shared parking, and it doesn’t work,” Bushnell commented. “There are too many demands and not enough parking.” 

“A benefit of this plan is that each party will be responsible for the management and enforcement of their part of the lot,” Dave Lorenz added. The participants at the Aug. 19 meeting were impressed with the proposed parking plan but mostly underwhelmed by what the Council has done since Shuler asked that the leases be transferred in April of this year. “The Council has not included the residents at all,” Rene Mueller said. “They are giving the tenants everything at the expense of the residents. They have given the residents less and less access.” Glenda Nemes called the plan “an excellent solution,” pointing out that “it could solve the parking problem – everyone’s a winner.” “Whatever has been going on has not been transparent,” Brenda Rosenthal said. “The restaurant has been treated unethically.” Bushnell said Shuler has been receptive to their plan, though he did not attend the Aug. 19 meeting. “I’m not sure I am familiar enough to specifically comment on anything new, but we are definitely excited to work with all parties to hopefully improve,” Shuler said in an email. The plan can only move forward with the approval of the City Council because the restaurant’s lease with the city would have to be amended. 

Bushnell said the restaurant owners could present their proposal to the Council in September. 

“We will provide a plan to the Council as soon as it is available from our engineers and attorneys,” Dave Lorenz said. 

Meanwhile, the Council won’t vote again on the transfer of the leases any sooner than Aug. 30 because “We’ve got Council members out of town,” according to Mayor Phillip Pounds.

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