CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston's booming housing market was one of the highlights of thepast year, according to Mayor Joe Riley.
He delivered his annual "State of the City" address to City Council onThursday evening.
"The housing industry is surging in response to the growing economy andalso because people and their families want to live in our neighborhoods andenjoy our quality of life," he said.
Riley said the city saw near-record levels of new development: 829 newhouses and 912 new apartments.
Riley also noted a survey by the Millikin Institute, which rankedCharleston as the 11th best-performing economy in the country. He credits large companies, like BenefitFocus,and smaller entrepreneurs for the progress. Riley said new ownership of the Citadel Mall will help to revitalize theWest Ashley area.
"The 33-year-old retail center has many strong performers. Belks, Sears, Dilliards, JCPenney, Target,Dick's Sporting Goods, and the cinema are extremely successful and see growingrevenue every year," he said.
Riley said crime decreased within the city by 17 percent in 2013. He credits a stronger Charleston PoliceDepartment, which added 19 officers to the new School Security Response Team.
The mayor says he is looking forward to many milestones in the newyear, including the start of the $20 million Phase II of the Crosstown drainageproject, and continued fundraising for the proposed International AfricanAmerican Museum.
"The impact of [Enslaved Africans] and their decedents upon our countrydeserve a far fuller study and presentation than now exists," he said.
City and County Council have both committed $12.5 million towards themuseum. Riley said state and privatemoney is now being sought.