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Foundation Matters

295 Calhoun BACK at BAR-L

Posted: January 11, 2023

Rendering of the proposed 295 Calhoun site, comparing the scale to the surrounding buildings.

UPDATE: (February 7, 2023) Historic Charleston Foundation is disappointed to see a nearly identical version of the same building return to the BAR-L after THREE previous denials. The development team has made it abundantly clear that they are not interested in responding to the repeated concerns and comments of the Harleston Village Neighborhood Association, the preservation organizations, The Board of Architectural Review members, or concerned citizens of our city who have reached out by the hundreds to oppose this project.

Historic Charleston Foundation opposed the redistricting of this site from 75 feet to 7 stories at Planning Commission in 2020. At that time, we felt that a building at either 75 feet tall or 7 stories was too tall for this site. Our priority since that time has been to reduce the height, scale, and mass of the proposed building to achieve something that is more appropriate to its surrounding context in Harleston Village. We do, however, appreciate that the applicants have eliminated their request for an extra floor based on architectural merit, but even with that request off the table we are still of the opinion that the building is too tall even when conforming to what the zoning envelope allows.

It is our opinion that the program for this site, a nearly 300’ x 300’, 7-story apartment building that wraps a parking deck, is wholly incompatible for any site in downtown Charleston. This format of development is inappropriate in our city, and especially for a site that is immediately adjacent to sensitive historic neighborhoods. We therefore continue to recommend the outright Denial of this project based on Height, Scale, Mass, and Architectural Direction.

We continue to recommend the denial of this project, but at a minimum, IF the BAR is going to approve this project, the board SHOULD reduce the height of the building by a ½ story, which they are entitled to and have the power to do. 

Support Historic Charleston Foundation, the Preservation Society of Charleston and the hundreds in the community that oppose this project by ATTENDING the BAR-L meeting on Wednesday, February 8 at 4:30 pm at 2 George Street, first floor, public meeting room 1403. 


UPDATE: Late afternoon, January 10, developers pulled the application for the January 11 BAR-L meeting. Stay connected for all updates regarding this project. 

January 10, 2023 | The developers of 295 Calhoun have once again submitted a design to the Board of Architectural Review-Large. This latest design (the bottom version of the above images) is an example of a development team making token changes to try and appease the BAR with minimal effort, or worse, wear down the board’s patience. The design has had almost no meaningful change from the multitude of previous versions brought before the board over the last TWO years that have been denied on multiple occasions. They submit this application in the wake of a lawsuit appealing the BAR’s prior denial and asking the court to declare it unconstitutional.

Calhoun Street, site of 295 Calhoun left, Roper Hospital right

Hundreds of comments have been submitted by members of the public, neighborhood associations, and preservation organizations, against this development. They have been repeatedly asking the development team to recognize their location and proximity to Charleston’s historic Harleston Village Neighborhood. It is possible to create a development that is compatible with the sensitive character of our city and the 2 and 3 story height of the surrounding neighborhood context.

The latest design, along with all previous versions, is profit driven. The building has always been and is still maximized to the absolute limit of its allowable zoning envelope and architecturally assembled in a way to extract every possible cent of profit from its square footage with no consideration for its massing, architectural direction, or impact on the city.

The building has an imposing massing in order to conceal a huge internal parking garage. It has almost no meaningful articulation in the façade or cornice to break up the elevations in a way that reflects Charleston’s urban texture. The volumes and recesses on the elevations therefor read as applied facades to the otherwise massive box of apartments giving the building a chaotic assembly with no sense of purpose to the architecture.

The architecture has no clear direction with traditional style volumes of simple brick veneer which are interspersed or covered seemingly at random by contemporary styled glass hyphens and balconies. There are 4 different types of balconies on the Calhoun St elevation alone. The 7th story serves only as a sort of glass hat to the building. The dark metal panel used on the upper floor only adds to the already towering height and massing of the 6 stories below.

Consequently, HCF will once again be recommending denial of the application to the Board of Architectural Review – Large. We ask our community to stay engaged and please come and speak out with us in person at the meeting. The BAR-L is meeting January 11, 2023 at 4:30p.m. at 2 George Street, 1st Floor, Public Meeting Room (room#1403).

Cashion Drolet, Chief Advocacy Officer

One response to “295 Calhoun BACK at BAR-L”

  1. Phyllis Koch says:

    Go back to the drawing board please. This design is unacceptable and the beginning of going down a slippery slope that would ruin the charming historic character of Charleston. No thank you.

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