CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The tallest points of downtown Charleston has shifted from steeple tops to towering cranes building the next high-rise.
In downtown Charleston, the intersections of Meeting and Woolfe Streets to Meeting and Huger Street are only about a half mile apart.
One apartment complex already exists in that area (Elan Midtown) and sits at 97% capacity with more than 200 units. Over the next year, four more apartment complexes will be built and opened. More complexes are already planned in the same area for 2019.
"It's crazy the amount of growth that we've had here over the last couple years," downtown resident John Coughlin said. He has lived downtown since 2010. "I live on Shepard Street right around the corner."
Coughlin says he's excited to see new growth on this side of the peninsula. The City of Charleston agrees.
"We actually think it's really smart planning to put dense development in the city's center where people can walk or bike to their daily needs," city planning director Jacob Lindsey said.
"I lived in Charleston 5 years before I even had a vehicle. It just goes to show how easy it is to get around," Coughlin said. "Walk to work if you live downtown. Walk to work or take a bike."
Lindsey explained the apartment complexes that keep popping up are planned 10 to 15 years out.
"These projects look new but they've really been planned for many years out."
Downtown residents, like Coughlin, complain that this will be even more of a nightmare for drivers.
"Traffic already is crazy so, if anything, it's going to make traffic worse," Coughlin said.
Lindsey counters that more people do not always mean more traffic.
"There's no doubt we experience traffic, especially during peak hours and peak times," Lindsey said, "Residential uses generate less traffic than commercial uses too."
In the areas of heavy traffic, the city reports it's already making plans to accommodate.
"We are looking at traffic and transportation issues downtown all the time. At the specific intersection of Meeting and Huger Streets, we're actually in the process of redesigning," Lindsey said. The increase in residencies is all part of the city's plan. "We've been planning for the city to redevelop in that way for many years and as we grow we'll make sure the transportation network is being addressed properly."
Part of addressing the transportation network includes actively working on the council, county, and federal levels to get a rapid transit system.
"I think we're going that direction, it's just going to take us a while to get the funding for it," Lindsey said.
A date to transition into a rapid-transit bus system has not yet been set.