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King Street owners weigh in on Charleston business improvement district

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 10:24 PM EDT|Updated: May. 17, 2022 at 11:31 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The City of Charleston continues to work on creating a special business improvement district downtown on King Street.

That would mean more amenities like street beautification, and an ambassador service to help people navigate their experience. The property owners on King Street would be paying for this.

In a meeting with city council, some owners say they like the idea, but don’t know if they trust it.

They say it’s already expensive downtown and they don’t feel like King Street is being taken care of as is, so why should they pay more taxes for more programs that they fear won’t work.

“I wouldn’t mind the business improvement district if the city were doing the job, the basic tasks that they should be doing for the taxes that we are paying right now,” said Harris Cohen who owns property at 370 King and King Street Cookies.

Cohen says he’s been doing business downtown for years and has noticed problems lately.

“There’s trash on the street every single day, every single morning. There’s graffiti everywhere downtown,” he said.

He wants to see more effort from the city with things like a stronger police presence and support for the homeless.

“More officers, not only in their cars but on the street. Many of the officers are great, but there aren’t enough of them,” Cohen said.

Mayor John Tecklenburg says the city already does offer extra services to King Street, and the new district is going to make owners a part of that.

“For example, the City of Charleston picks up trash, garbage, seven days a week on King Street. We don’t do that in other parts of the city. To keep it cleaner, to keep it safer, and all kinds of daily challenges that present themselves in a really busy business district,” Tecklenburg said.

Tecklenburg says with King Street staying busy day and night, it’s time to make the district happen.

“The Charleston downtown association would basically be managing the district. And they would be submitting an annual budget and a work plan to the city saying here the things we are planning on doing. This would be our budget for doing these things,” Tecklenburg said.

Owner-occupied residences and churches and government buildings will not be a part of the program.

Those who qualify will have to pay based on estimated assessments for the properties that will contribute to the improvement fund. The city will move forward discussing the plans next Tuesday at a regular council meeting.

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