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Foundation Matters

July 2022 Litigation Updates from the Foundation – 295 Calhoun and Cruise Ships

Posted: July 18, 2022

HCF Legal Challenge Forces Project Back to the BAR

HCF’s legal challenge to the development proposed for 295 Calhoun Street has concluded successfully, protecting the authority of the BAR, the integrity of the BAR review process and the public’s ability to weigh in on this huge controversial project. The development team must now submit an entirely new design to the Board of Architectural Review (BAR).

Google Map view of 295 Calhoun St

295 Calhoun, Google Maps

The BAR twice denied the developer’s plans to build a massive, eight-story residential building at 295 Calhoun Street. HCF had consistently advocated to the BAR for denial of this project, citing specific concerns with its height, scale, mass and architectural direction. The proposal was also met with outspoken opposition from Harleston Village neighbors, the Preservation Society and the community-at-large.

Rather than actually responding to the chorus of commentary for  a completely new design approach, the developer appealed the BAR’s decision in Circuit Court and requested pre-litigation mediation. Mediation is a confidential, closed-door process and removes the public’s ability to  provide input. SC state law provides that outside entities may intervene in the mediation, if they have a “substantial interest” in the decision of the BAR. Thus, last fall, HCF filed a motion seeking to join the mediation between the developer of 295 Calhoun and the City of Charleston and BAR.

Due to the pending litigation and lengthy judicial process, the developer has decided to cut their losses and dismissed their appeal.  As a result of HCF’s legal challenge and the city properly supporting the BAR, the development proposal for this important site has been moved out of closed-door mediation and back into the light, where the public can review any future designs and provide meaningful input. HCF remains committed to working with the 295 Calhoun  development team, BAR staff, and the neighborhood to find an appropriate design  that is contextual, more compatibly scaled, and meets Charleston’s high standard for architecture.


Carnival’s Exit from Union Pier Signals End to Cruise Ship Litigation

In May, the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SPA) announced its decision not to renew the current home port agreement with Carnival Cruise Lines, effectively ending the litigation over the impact of the new cruise terminal on the peninsula. HCF applauds the SPA for this decision not to renew the contract, as a strategic focus on port-of-call cruise business is critical to our community’s efforts to increase their economic benefit to the city, mitigate their negative impacts, and promote a better  redevelopment vision for Union Pier.

Concerned by the effects cruise operations have on the peninsula and quality of life for residents, HCF and a number of advocacy and neighborhood organizations filed litigation in 2013 challenging the permit for the SPA’s construction of an expanded cruise terminal at Union Pier. Though the SPA had protested the lawsuit, the SC Supreme Court granted legal standing to our groups in August 2020 and allowed it to proceed.

When the SPA decided not to renew the contract with Carnival and no longer pursue a new, expanded cruise ship terminal, they withdrew their permit application. Since that permit was the subject of the lawsuit, the case was effectively rendered moot, and all parties jointly requested that the judge dismiss the case, which was granted by Judge Ralph Anderson on June 22, 2022.

HCF is not opposed to cruise ships. However, legitimate concerns have been raised over the impacts to our historic and environmental resources and to residential quality of life, particularly in the Ansonborough neighborhood. There are many details and questions to be explored regarding the future of cruise operations and the redevelopment of Union Pier. We look forward to working with the SPA, the City of Charleston, and other stakeholders to find the appropriate balance for cruise ship activity, while redeveloping Union Pier into a vibrant new peninsula neighborhood.

16 responses to “July 2022 Litigation Updates from the Foundation – 295 Calhoun and Cruise Ships”

  1. Alex Pappas says:

    Want to thank you all for what you are doing to help preserve the fabric of the city…Alex Pappas

  2. Kathryn cox says:

    Bravo and thank you

  3. Kathryn cox says:

    Well done

  4. Shirlyn MacPherson says:

    Nothing should be done to destroy the history of Charleston: no highrise or piers. The residents have told us that when the cruise ships are in, there is no driving down town. I have been to Charleston and toured many times. Do not ruin this beautiful and historic city.

  5. David Dempsey says:

    Thanks for all you do to protect our beautiful and historic city.

  6. Ray McChesney says:

    Excellent job!!!

  7. James Klein says:

    Congratulations to HCF and your legal counsel. Great idea to file the motion to intervene so HCF could join the mediation process.

  8. Laura Dowd says:

    Thank you for preserving the beauty and charm of Charleston.

  9. Carolyn Dietrich says:

    The Ansonborough Neighborhood worked together,, spending many hours in Meetings and travel to make realistic complaints about the disturbing effects on our downtown neighborhoods.
    GOOD job!

  10. Tricia Moore says:

    So glad to have a responsive and dedicated organization and people who live and love Charleston stand up to more over development . Our quality of life should stay at the forefront of concerns; so many thanks !

  11. Mary Miller says:

    Charleston is so beautiful the way that it has been for the past several centuries-please keep up the great work and don’t ever let any developer destroy its beauty.

  12. Alex says:

    What is your involvement with Union Pier? Wont this have an even bigger, more damaging impact on the Peninsula than the cruise ships?

  13. Addison Ingle says:

    Congratulations to HCF for its continuing “watch dog” stance, defending against those who would ruin forever the ‘face’ of our lovely city. Next in line is to protect the Union Pier area height limit of 50 feet.

  14. Ellen Lipschitz says:

    Thank you. Excellent outcome!

  15. Kat says:


  16. Mary Wallace Johnson says:

    I am from South Carolina and have been visiting Charleston since I was a child. Congrats for protecting this gem of a city. Please keep up the good work you are doing.

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