Debate continues regarding development of former West Ashley Piggly Wiggly site
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The City of Charleston Community Development Commission discussed the development of the old Piggly Wiggly lot on Sumar Street Thursday night for the first time since last month after a city council meeting deferred discussions due to a split vote.
The meeting lasted for three hours as commissioners argued back and forth, with some advocating for green space to be the focus, and others wanting the project to focus on revitalization.
City officials and the public were asked for their input on three different proposals last month, with the first option including underground parking, outdoor areas and a civic building.
Option one was the most popular with 72% of the community in favor of the design, yet approval failed in a split decision vote by the city council.
“I just want to say I’m a little surprised and disappointed that it seems like the politicians are just not listening to the residents of West Ashley,” community member Sharon Gardner says.
Thursday’s meeting was set with plans of potential action for the project, but after hours of heated discussion, the only decision made was to develop another proposal with a design only including civic building and green space.
“I think we need to develop another option,” Charleston City Councilmember, William Dudley Gregorie, says. “We need to develop another option that is green space, and municipal space, and let the people of West Ashley take a look at that.”
The motion was made even after dozens of members of the public continued to push for option one.
“Having something in our community to allow us to gather is very important,” West Ashley resident William Tinkler says. “I’ve talked with many people in the last couple of months, and I can tell that people in West Ashley, they want action; they want something done now.”
Although the meeting was held by the Charleston Community Development Commission, almost every member of the Charleston City Council joined, saying no project in the city’s history has had this large of a public response.
“Approach this effort in this project through the lens of West Ashley revitalization,” councilmember Ross Appel says. “We need to find a way to jumpstart the economy of West Ashley; because let’s face it, West Ashley does lag behind other parts of the city and other parts of the region.”
Unless one voting member changes their mind, at this rate the decision will simply remain split.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg himself is on the side of economic growth.
“If we approve it, we would be able to move forward and get something going, that includes the multi-uses that respectfully many hundreds of our citizens weigh in upon over the last few years,” Tecklenburg says. “It’s a good option; it will revitalize the West Ashley, it’s a good way to go”
A community member who has been involved in the process says this is the nineteenth meeting on the development in the last six years.
Robert Mitchell, Perry Waring, William Dudley Gregorie and Caroline Parker were in favor of Thursday’s motion to develop another proposal with design only including civic building and green space. Mayor John Tecklenburg, Ross Appel and Jason Sakran were opposed.
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