New developments are paving the way for resurgence of Charleston’s downtown residential neighborhoods. In the thirty years between 1980 and 2010, the population on the peninsula declined by approximately 28 percent. Mayor Joe Riley has said he would like to see more people living in the city, and plans are in the works to make that happen.
On October 17, the State Supreme Court overruled a lower court decision that Charleston illegally rezoned the former Charleston County Library property adjacent to Marion Square. The Historic Charleston Foundation and the Preservation Society of Charleston had sued to block construction of a proposed eight-story hotel, claiming it would obscure nearby 18th and 19th century historical buildings. The Supreme Court’s reversal clears a path for developer Michael Bennett to move forward with his plans to build his full service 185-room lodging, complete with a ballroom, meeting space, restaurants, shops, and 143 underground parking spaces.
Evening Post Publishing Co., parent company of The Post and Courier newspaper, is working on plans to extend the development of upper King and Meeting streets as far as Line Street near Interstate 26. They own nearly 12 acres along King, Meeting and St. Philip streets. More than half that land is currently vacant or used as parking lots. Development there would not displace any existing businesses or affect any historical buildings. The city has been encouraging projects which include a mix of residential and commercial uses, and the company is discussing concepts with city officials and civic groups.
NAI Avant, a commercial real estate firm, is planning to expand the Elan Midtown apartments at the intersection of Spring and Meeting streets to include commercial service enterprises, such as dry-cleaning shops, grocery stores and professional office spaces.
There are also plans to transform the former Mendel Rivers Federal Building on Meeting Street across from Marion Square into lodging facilities.
While the renovation of Upper King Street over the past few years brought a growing number of dining and drinking establishments and burgeoning tourist traffic, leading to a vibrant nightlife venue, retail businesses have had a tough time because the daytime foot traffic has not been strong enough to sustain a prosperous commercial environment. These new developments are expected to make this area a better place to live, shop and work.
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