Community leaders, members talk Union Pier, Sumar Street redevelopment projects

Published: Jun. 17, 2023 at 10:13 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 18, 2023 at 5:16 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Community leaders and members met Saturday morning to raise questions and give suggestions related to development projects in certain parts of the Lowcountry.

Dozens from both Charleston and West Ashley neighborhoods gathered for nearly two hours at Charles Towne Landing to share thoughts with city councilmembers, representatives with the State Ports Authority and Historic Charleston Foundation and more.

Main points of discussion were the recently deferred Union Pier project and tentative plans to rebuild Sumar Street in West Ashley.

Many in the crowd shared concerns about the new infrastructure in Union Pier bringing more traffic and noise as well as taking away from the overall beauty and history of the city.

Charleston City Councilman Peter Shahid added that he thought the decision to slow down on the project was wise and that it gives more opportunities to hear input from the community and make changes as needed.

“There’s more work to be done on that project, work that in my opinion should’ve been done at the beginning, almost a year ago,” Shahid said. “This is more than generational. This could be a permanent change to Charleston at that location. I think that the SPA, and I applaud them for doing that. They understood that this was critical to the community.”

Shahid also discussed three tentative options to rebuild the Sumar Street site in West Ashley into a civic space for the community and local businesses.

The project would open infrastructure for various businesses, give visitors access to green space, parking and other community resources.

The main difference between the three plans would be the funding granted to build either surface, subsurface or structured parking in the area.

One West Ashley homeowner said the community felt overwhelmed by what they call rapid changes to both areas.

“One of the constituents rightfully said, we’re being bombarded with this decision and this one, both of them,” Ledlie Bell said. “They’re both important, and it’s hard when people are busy with their families and it’s a busy time of year.”

The Charleston City Council plans to vote on the future for Sumar Street on Tuesday requiring at least seven votes to kickstart an official motion for redevelopment in the area.

Leaders said the next steps for Union Pier are to create a revised plan and involve more community-led interest in decision-making.

According to City of Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, the plan is to focus on these specific areas:

  • A comprehensive plan.
  • Parks and greenspace.
  • Architecture and density.
  • Traffic and transportation.
  • Resiliency and stormwater.
  • Funding.