City Council to vote on new deal for Lowcountry Low Line

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston City Council will meet tomorrow to vote on whether or not Charleston will get a new park that runs through the peninsula.

The project is called the Lowcountry Low Line. It's modeled after similar parks in other cities, like New York's High Line and Atlanta's Belt Line.

The Lowcountry Low Line would be located between King and Meeting streets on an abandoned railroad track.

"It hasn't been used as an active rail corridor for years," said Winslow Hastie, President of Friends of the Lowcountry Low Line. "It's vacant, it's neglected, it's blighted."

The railroad track is owned by the company Norfolk Southern, but it's offering to sell the track to the city for about five million dollars. But that's something Winslow Hastie wants to change. He's part of a group called Friends of the Lowcountry Low Line.

"Our hope is to turn it into a destination linear park that would connect the upper peninsula down to kind of the midtown part of the city," said Hastie.

The hope he's talking about is actually a one-and-a-half-mile project.

"This would be a connective tissue that would run down the spine of the peninsula and connect these neighborhoods with one another and connect people with where they live to where they work," said Hastie.

The weeds around the railroad track give you a pretty good idea of how long it's been abandoned. In some areas, weeds have grown more than a foot. But projects like this can often lead to higher rent prices. That's something the city is planning for.

"We're certainly aware of the effects these kind of projects can have on property values," said Jacob Lindsey, Planning Director for the City of Charleston. "And that's why we're taking steps to build new affordable housing right on this site."

Before anything gets started, city council has to approve the newest deal. It would cost taxpayers about 2 and a half million dollars. That's a price Hastie says is well worth it.

"This is a very important, we think once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to gain control and to gain ownership of this piece of land in downtown Charleston," said Hastie.

The City of Charleston will pay half of the cost for the land owned by Norfolk Southenr. Friends of the Lowcountry Low Line has agreed to pay the other half.

If city council does vote yes on Tuesday, then those involved with the project will start working on closing the deal before the end of the year.

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