No agreement reached on Sgt. Jasper site in second meeting

No agreement reached on Sgt. Jasper site in second meeting

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The future of the Sergeant Jasper site remains at standstill Friday.

Mayor Riley and the City of Charleston's Planning Department met with stakeholders for a second time to discuss the project.

The Beach Company's CEO John Darby says no agreement was reached by the meeting's end, but the groups are still talking.

Darby said the biggest challenge they face is how quick the city would be able to grant approvals since there are certain procedures that need to be followed.

He said time is of the essence with this decision and could impact the future of the project.

He's asking his staff and the city staff to think outside of the box in finding a solution.

An official statement from CEO John Darby of The Beach Company reads in part:

"The Beach Company agrees with the City that a more residential and less commercial approach is ideal for the Sergeant Jasper project. Yet a new plan along these lines presents challenges on many fronts. Many changes have transpired since the redevelopment plans began several years ago. The delays experienced in the planning process have been costly and may adversely affect The Beach Company's ability to build a predominately residential project. Economic factors have shifted, such as rising interest rates and construction costs, as well as market conditions.

At this juncture, The Beach Company has no choice but to continue with the appeal of the Board of Architectural Review's denial of the Sergeant Jasper revised plan, presented June 3, 2015. We recognize that it may be a lengthy process and expect our appeal to be challenged by neighborhood and preservation groups.

The Beach Company stands behind the design presented to the BAR on June 3, which complies with existing zoning and is a vast improvement to the existing structure. However, pending the outcome of the appeal, we have been working diligently on alternate plans to mitigate the loss of time and revenue associated with the redevelopment of the site. This new approach will allow The Beach Company to pursue the renovation of the existing building and develop the surrounding property in the event that the BAR decision under appeal is ultimately affirmed.

In either case, we remain committed to creating a high-quality mixed-use development on the Sergeant Jasper site, which is a much-needed addition to this special part of the peninsula, and we look forward to meeting again next Thursday."

The original proposal was overwhelmingly opposed in a meeting in February. In November, Charleston City Council voted 11-1 to reject the Planning Commission's recommendation for eliminating the existing 3X zoning height limit in favor of a 55-foot cap for new buildings. In a statement, Beach Company spokesperson Hannah Nuccio said the Beach Company has never pushed to change height limits in the Historic District, but rather has sought to keep the existing limits designated by the existing zoning laws.

Many say the proposed projects are just too big to accommodate the space near Colonial Lake downtown. Neighbors near the Sergeant Jasper site are concerned about their skyline views and architectural integrity.

While Mayor Riley says he is invested in the project, mayor-elect John Tecklenburg will continue working with the Beach Company after his inauguration Monday, January 11.

The third meeting between the groups is scheduled for Thursday, January 14.

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