CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - There could soon be a compromise reached on an empty high rise in downtown Charleston.
According to the Beach Company which owns the Sergeant Jasper building at Colonial Lake, they've been ordered to enter mediation with the City of Charleston and neighborhood groups.
Neighborhood groups have expressed concerns about plans to redevelop the site into commercial and residential use.
The building has been empty since people started moving out in the summer of 2014.
A Beach Company spokesperson says under the mediation all parties must agree on a design for the building.
The company released the following statement on Tuesday:
Today the Charleston Circuit Court ordered The Beach Company, the City of Charleston and neighborhood and preservation groups involved in the Charleston Board of Architectural Review (BAR) appeal case to enter mediation. On June 3, 2015, the BAR denied The Beach Company's plan for the Sergeant Jasper site by a 3–2 vote without providing clear, objective criteria to revise the plan's architecture.
The mediation to reach a resolution for the redevelopment of the Sergeant Jasper must occur within 10 days of the order. The date of the mediation is scheduled for April 6, 2016.
"Rather than clutter the court system and further waste taxpayers' dollars, we are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to reach a positive solution for the Sergeant Jasper site through mediation," said John Darby, CEO of The Beach Company. "We are hopeful the preservation and neighborhood groups will now focus their efforts on finding a resolution that is best for the community, rather than continuing their unilateral opposition."
The arbitrary denial of The Beach Company's BAR application to redevelop the property led to the current appeal, as the proposed project complied with the applicable zoning restrictions. Circuit Court Judge J. C. Nicholson, Jr. ordered all parties involved in the BAR appeal to return to mediation to review all plans proposed for the Sergeant Jasper and create a swift and actionable plan for the site. With all plans back on the table, the mediation must yield a design that meets the approval of all parties, has a clear and fair approval process and addresses compensation for costs incurred due to delays from BAR decisions.
"The Beach Company supports the BAR and its purpose, but believes the vagueness of the approvals process is excessively onerous for property owners," said Darby. "We look forward to working together to resolve the future of the Sergeant Jasper site, and beginning improvements to the west end of Broad Street."