78-unit complex bringing opportunities and challenges to West Ashley

Big plans are approved for an affordable housing complex in West Ashley.
Published: Apr. 4, 2023 at 5:21 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 4, 2023 at 9:01 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Big plans are approved for an affordable housing complex in West Ashley. The news sparked excitement among some neighbors, but concerns about traffic and the location as well.

The city’s housing department, council members and neighbors agree, affordable housing is a need in West Ashley. But the development does come with a lot of planning and factors to consider when approving a plan.

City of Charleston District 2 Councilmember Kevin Shealy says he initially did not support a 2020 zone change of the property from general business to diverse residential.

“At that time and in 2020, there was a there was an office building sitting there and it’s actually a good location for an office building because people may not have to drive downtown to go to work. They can work and live in the same place which fits in with the West Ashley Revitalization,” Shealy says.

In March of 2023, the planning commission approved initial design plans for the complex. Shealy says he is an advocate for affordable housing, but wants to make sure it’s being put in practical places.

Jerry Gray, who has lived in the area for about 15 years, thinks incoming affordable housing is good news.

“Charleston can be the land of opportunity for a lot of people. And it’s also a window of opportunity for people who want to start out. So having some level of affordable housing where people can start out, start building an American Dream is critical for any neighborhood,” Gray says.

While he says he’s excited about the complex and the opportunities it can bring, he admits that traffic does cross his mind when a project like this is approved.

“Highway 61, we want to keep it as a scenic road. So yeah, traffic would be a problem and a consideration but again, there’s work around for that,” Gray says.

Shealy says he also worries about traffic for people who live in his district. He explains that the South Carolina Department of Transportation grades state roads on a scale from A to F.

“Ashley River Road during peak times grade is an E, and it’s very close to an F. And it probably will be one day unless we can do something about those roads. Hopefully we get some help from the state, state or county and maybe they can help with traffic flowing,” Shealy says.

Gray referenced how widening Glenn McConnell Parkway and the development of Bees Ferry Road has created a connector between areas and will solve some of the traffic woes.

“So those things can be overcome with good planning,” Gray believes.

Shealy says he wants to see hard workers in Charleston like firefighters, police officers and teachers live and enjoy the same area where they work.

“We need affordable housing in the right locations. Live work and play. That’s kind of what the West Ashley revitalization idea said. But that’s also a reason for us to make sure we have commercial properties out in West Ashley out in the western part of West Ashley so that everybody’s not driving to downtown, causing these traffic congestions,” Shealy says.

Shealy says while he initially did not approve of the housing complex, now that it’s on its way, he is dedicated to making sure it fits into the neighborhood.

Gray says he is excited to see more people enjoying the area and hopes the city does its due diligence incorporating plans for runoff, traffic and other aspects of development in the plans.

To learn more about the details of the complex, click here.