Town Ends Restaurant Chase

BLYTHEWOOD – Town Council voted unanimously Monday night to end the prospect that it would finance the construction of a fine dining restaurant in the Doko Park adjacent to the Town Hall in downtown Blythewood. A resolution designed to dissolve the project and pay off a loan taken out to build the facility stated that “it was not in the best interest of the people of the Town of Blythewood to incur, directly or indirectly, any additional debt in connection with Doko Manor, the park and any ancillary uses.”

Mayor J. Michael Ross said the move was prompted by a payment due on a $900,000+ loan the Town took out two years ago from the S.C. Public Service Authority (Santee-Cooper) to help pay for the restaurant construction. The Town had planned to use that loan and a $456,000 grant from Fairfield Electric Cooperative to finance the $1.4 million restaurant. Interest on the $900,000 low-interest loan costs the Town $18,000 annually to keep the loan for later use. The payoff fee is also $18,000.

The restaurant was the brainchild of former Town Administrator John Perry who had planned it to compliment The Manor as its exclusive catering facility. After Perry left the Town’s employ last December, the current Council voted not to move forward with the construction of the restaurant, but to try to find an established restaurateur, agent or developer to construct the restaurant jointly with the Town, using the Town’s loan and grant. But no prospects materialized.

“I think we just came to the conclusion that this was not going to work in a way that we’d hoped,” Ross said on Monday evening. “It was too much liability for the Town, so we have an opportunity to pay this off and that’s what this resolution is about.”

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