CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston City Council passed a resolution that would give the city the option to use eminent domain to acquire the site of the former Piggly Wiggly in West Ashley.
That means the city could force the sale of the private property for public use.
The property is located on Sumar Street and it's the gateway to Charleston. The city created a program to revitalize the West Ashley area and city officials believe that this area should be a part of those efforts.
The current property owners have plans to build a Sunoco gas station and convenience store on the property.
Design plans for the development have not been approved by city.
City Planning Director Jacob Lindsey says eminent domain is used when public improvements can happen on private property like roads or public spaces.
"If it's designed right it can be an asset to all the people of Charleston," Lindsey said.
The city plans for the Sumar Street property to include creating a public park with parking and also recreational buildings.
The city is also considering adding a retention pond.
Karen Boi lives in West Ashley near the site and she would like to see a restaurant in the space, but she also supports the idea of a park.
"Maybe some of the older people can just come in and sit in the park and it'd be nice," Boi said.
Terrance Haley lives in another part of town but comes to the West Ashley area.
"I think that would be great idea for the community. I think it would be real nice for the kids to play on the park," Haley said.
However, Haley along with others have safety concerns when it comes to the amount of traffic next to the location of a park.
If purchased, the city would also look into building a new intersection at Sam Rittenberg Boulevard and Old Town Road.
The area has become know as the "suicide merge." The plans show they would like to make it a four way intersection.
Craig South supports intersection improvements.
"I've been traveling down this road for years and it's always been kind of a weird transition," South said. "I would hear cars everyday beeping their horns to try to merge."
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg says the passing of the resolution to consider eminent domain to purchase the property sends a message to the property owners, Faison and Associates, LLC of Charlotte, that the city is serious about the property.
"It's a very important gateway for West Ashley and for the whole City of Charleston," Lindsey said.
The city has made an offer to the owners. At this time the city is still negotiating in hopes that they will be willing to sell the property.