Ports Authority revising Union Pier master plan on public feedback

By Tracey Amick  bio | email

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Officials from the South Carolina State Ports Authority announced Jan. 19 that it will be revising its cruise terminal master plan to consider uses of other parts of the Union Pier property along the Cooper River.

The revision effort came after receiving a lot of public input on the use of the Union Pier terminal property. That feedback focused on creating a more attractive cruise terminal; offering more public access to the waterfront; alleviating traffic issues associated with cruises along Concord, Calhoun and East Bay streets; and ensuring that the development of the port fits within the greater development plans of that section of Charleston.

SCSPA President and CEO Jim Newsome said Tuesday that the decision was a direct response to community input.

"Through extensive discussions with the community, we have been encouraged not only to create the best plan for Charleston's cruise terminal but also to think more contextually, considering the entire footprint of our Union Pier property and other downtown planning initiatives," said Newsome.

Newsome emphasized that public participation continues to be a vital part of the planning process.  "We have been working closely with the City and the community," he said. "In addition to a widely publicized listening session in late October, we have held several meetings with individual constituencies and gathered comments on our special website www.UnionPierPlan.com."

Newsome said the goals for Union Pier have always been to create a financially successful cruise terminal that is a reflection of both Charleston's character and federal security requirements, as well as providing greater public access to the waterfront.

In September, the SCSPA hired a planning team led by Cooper, Robertson & Partners. The SCSPA Board Tuesday authorized a change order in the amount of $563,126 to include the additional work.

The planning team and the SCSPA hope to share preliminary thinking for the Union Pier property in February.

When the next cruise embarks, passengers will be filtered into the pier's property and into parking areas there instead of filling the city's streets.

Byron Miller with the Ports Authority said those changes are already in place for the next embarkation on Feb. 15, along with new  signs and better communication. There are new e-mail alerts on cruise ships coming to town being sent to anyone who signs up at www.scspa.com/cruises.

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