West Ashley revitalization kicks off with special committee

VIDEO: West Ashley revitalization kicks off with special committee

WEST ASHLEY, SC (WCSC) - A new committee focused on molding the future of West Ashley's begins work Thursday.

The 19-member West Ashley Revitalization Commission was approved by Charleston City Council in May and will focus on creating economic stability and guiding the master plan for the area.

"We have been making progress this year on improving the quality of life in West Ashley," Tecklenburg said in a press release. "We've made significant investments in park space, started the hugely successful West Ashley Farmers Market and begun the process of creating a West Ashley Master Plan. The West Ashley Revitalization Commission will look at the big picture and help guide us as we continue to make investments and improvements in West Ashley."

The commission is made up of 19 voting members comprising the mayor, three members of City Council who represent a district or portion thereof in West Ashley one representative from the St. Andrews Public Service District, one representative of Charleston County Council and 13 members representing various disciplines, professional, business, and community interests conducive to promoting and enabling the revitalization of West Ashley.

"It is time for the residents of West Ashley to receive the attention they deserve in revitalizing their community," Councilmember Peter Shahid, Chair of the Commission, said in a press release. "As a long-time resident, I know first-hand what a great place West Ashley is and I have a vision of what our community can become. I am honored to have the opportunity to chair this important Commission."

Charleston County School Board member and West Ashley business owner Michael Miller said he's eager to see what plans are on the table.

"Mayor Tecklenburg recognizes that West Ashley has been, to some degree neglected and now it's time to put some concerted effort into what West Ashley will become," Miller said. "With forty years of focus on the peninsula, now it'll be really good and refreshing to have West Ashley the focal point."

More than 70,000 people currently live in West Ashley, according to city data. Some hope the committee will prioritize infrastructure and traffic.

"Definitely improve the traffic," Kyra Wilson said. "Also, the mall is something to be looked into. There's a lot of stores leaving. There's not much to do. There's not many places to shop unless you go to North Charleston or one of the other areas."

Malachy Friedman, resident and operator of American Top Team Lowcountry, said he's hoping revitalization will attract new businesses and customers to the area.

"West Ashley is a great place, but we've really got to bring West Ashley back up. It was amazing before and it kind of got neglected," Friedman said. "Rather than leaving and going downtown or going to Mount Pleasant for stuff, they're going to come here and they're going to stay in the area. and that's good for everybody."

According to city documents, redevelopment is estimated to take 25 years and cost approximately $35,000,000. The city has proposed creating a special TIF district along Sam Rittenberg Blvd. to fund the project.

City staff expect to review potential design contracts next week and anticipate the design process to begin Jan. 2017.
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