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Charleston leaders to discuss chain restrictions for Avondale business district

Updated: Nov. 23, 2020 at 2:54 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston city leaders and a Lowcountry non-profit are looking into ways to protect small, locally owned businesses in West Ashley’s Avondale neighborhood.

The organization Lowcountry Local First is proposing greater restrictions on large chain businesses that would want to come to the area through what’s called “formula business zoning.”

“Basically, it allows a business district like Avondale, any new businesses that would come into the area that qualify as ‘formula,’ or chain businesses, would be regulated from moving into the area,” Lauren Gellatly with Lowcountry Local First said.

Gellatly said the proposal does not impact any current chains in the area and the city can shape what the ordinance would look like with the end goal to protect the character of the neighborhood.

“Something like this shows that a community cares and doesn’t want to be anywhere USA,” Gellatly said.

Similar ordinances already exist on Sullivan’s Island and on Folly Beach. Charleston district 12 councilmember Carol Jackson said she wants the city to test the restrictions out in a small area first.

“What I like about the formula business district is the specificity that can be put to use,” Jackson said. “For this to be the pilot project it seems like a perfect fit because people really do want to preserve and protect the businesses of Avondale.”

Beth Cook has owned her consignment shop Reinvented Upscale Resale in Avondale for 15 years.

“Avondale is very local, it’s very mom and pop, it’s eclectic. That’s why I think people like to come and visit,” Cook said. “I want everybody that wants to do a business that wants to do a business to do well, but really I like Avondale the way it is.”

Charleston City councilmembers will talk about the proposal during Tuesday’s council meeting.

West Ashley revitalization commission chairman Peter Shahid said he wants the commission to talk about ways to protect Avondale’s small businesses while also allowing for growth in the commercial district.

“To make sure whatever is developed in West Ashley is consistent with the character of the neighborhood, and I think that’s probably the more attractive components of this,” Shahid said.

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