Marina plans under way

Published 10:06 pm Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Suffolk couple that already owns two successful North Suffolk restaurants plans to open a third at the site of the former Bennett’s Creek Restaurant and Marina.

Brian and Teresa Mullins received rezoning and conditional use permit approval requests during Wednesday’s City Council meeting. They own River Stone Chophouse and Vintage Tavern.

“What a great opportunity in front of us tonight,” said Melissa Venable with Land Planning Solutions, who presented the plans to City Council. “When I look at that site, I think, ‘Gosh, it’s really a piece of history of Suffolk.’”

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The site contains a restaurant building and marina on the water, but the facilities are dilapidated and the restaurant often flooded and closed intermittently to make repairs. It is now closed permanently.

The Mullinses purchased the property in November and have been working on plans since then.

“Our philosophy is to bring more tax dollars and create an atmosphere that was there before,” Brian Mullins said.

The Mullinses plan not only to rebuild the restaurant and marina but also to build 22 detached condo-style homes; an outdoor pool for the use of marina customers, residents and day pass holders; a bathhouse for marina users; and more.

“We spared no expense,” Brian Mullins said after the meeting.

The restaurant will be rebuilt above the floodplain, with the homes even farther inland, Mullins said.

“I think everybody realizes that place is a floodplain,” he said during Wednesday’s meeting.

The homes will be restricted to buyers 55 and up and will be 2,400 to 2,800 square feet in size. Water and sewer service will be extended to the site, and Ferry Road will be widened to 20 feet.

Mullins said trees that have been cleared from the site are being converted to lumber to use in the new restaurant, which will be called Decoys, with a tiki bar dubbed the Blind Duck. Bricks salvaged from the site also will be reused, he said.

The restaurant will be able to seat 160 on the first floor and 50 on the second floor and will also have an outside seating area, Mullins said. The marina will have 44 slips with power, water, cable television and dump services, as well as access to gas sales.

Mullins said the site as it stands now will not be able to have a boat ramp, due to the lack of parking for trailers. However, he did not rule it out if he is able to acquire some additional land in the future.

In addition to the rezoning, council approved a conditional use permit request for live outdoor entertainment at the tiki bar.

“I think this is a promising project,” Councilman Roger Fawcett said Wednesday.

The project is a return to the site for the Mullinses, who 18 years ago came close to purchasing it but then backed away because of the condition of the building.

“We look forward to being able to come back to this,” Brian Mullins said.

He said construction on the entire project should be complete by fall 2017.