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Foundation Matters

Synopsis: 2024 Advocacy Forum: Excellence in Waterfront Redevelopment

Posted: May 20, 2024

For almost two years, Historic Charleston Foundation and many others in the community have been hyper-focused on the redevelopment efforts of the nearly 70-acre Union Pier Terminal site. Throughout that time, HCF and our coalition partners have been consistent about our aspirations for Union Pier: visionary design to include waterfront access with memorable parks, generous civic spaces, properly scaled blocks and buildings that reflect Charleston’s historic neighborhoods, integrated resiliency measures, and an authentic mix of uses that will make it a vibrant district for all residents.

On May 13, the Foundation hosted a panel discussion on this very topic. We aimed to frame provocative questions to raise the level of discourse. What does excellent waterfront redevelopment look like? What does Charleston need and deserve from Union Pier? How can we ensure that an exciting vision becomes reality? Moderated by Vince Graham, founder of the I’On Group in Mount Pleasant and HCF Trustee, the panel included Charleston Mayor William Cogswell, architect and preservationist Christian Sottile, and Stefanos Polyzoides, co-founder of the firm Moule & Polyzoides and current Dean of the Notre Dame School of Architecture. The Forum began with a brief presentation by each panelist followed by a lively group discussion.

For a full transcript: HCF Advocacy Forum FULL

Some of the key takeaways from each presentation are as follows:

The discussion: Watch the FB Livestream HERE

Let’s be honest – the site has been studied again and again, there have been countless public meetings, and the concerns and desires of the community have been well communicated and documented. Now is the time to be visionary and aspirational about the potential for Union Pier let’s remember that we’re in a much better place than we were a year ago – and the cruise terminal is going away! On March 19, the Post & Courier reported that Union Pier was going to be purchased by Charleston-based philanthropist and businessman, Ben Navarro, who intends to be a long-term “steward” of this property, and this purchase indicates a new era for this development.

HCF will continue to keep our sights high, remain vigilant and engaged, and will continue to approach this project with a watchful optimism and a renewed sense of inspiration and excitement for its future.

This isn’t just a momentary project; it is a multi-generational and should have an impact on the way waterfronts are developed around the world. As the most significant development on the peninsula in our lifetime, Union Pier should be more than simply “good enough” for Charleston, we should demand excellence for Charleston!

Watch the discussion portion, streamed live on Facebook, HERE.

Read the HCF Advocacy Forum FULL TRANSCRIPT

2 responses to “Synopsis: 2024 Advocacy Forum: Excellence in Waterfront Redevelopment”

  1. When will we see the actual plans that the Board of Architectural Review or Planning Commission will see? Will the Public have input as we did with the first Developer and their plans?
    I am hopeful that we will have a plan that will cover all the concerns that were expressed in the first public hearing.
    This meeting that we had was to give citizens some hope that those who are now owning and planning the Pier Property revitalization will answer those concerns. I hope so.

  2. Clark J. Shaughnessy, Architect AIA Emeritus says:

    May 27,2024
    Thank you for telling me that approximately 25 of the 70 acres is decking. I suggest that the decking be removed from the actual shoreline into enough of the original tidal lands to construct a (one-way in and one-way out) canal and hundreds of boat slips along one side. This would leave a man-made island of perhaps 18 acres. The island could have restaurants, inns, shops, casino(?), stores (of a smaller size), maybe a large Ferris wheel (to complement the Cooper River bridge, etc. To get to the island construct three bridges. The east and west bridges for pedestrians only, the center bridge for pedestrians, delivery and emergency vehicles only. The pedestrian bridges would be arched to allow for the boat types to pass under, the vehicular bridge a lift-type. The utilities for the island would pass through the bridges. Every single pleasure boat from New England, New York and other Mid-Atlantic states would seasonally come to this new port of Charleston. On the shore side facing the canal and boat slips the first 100 to 150 feet must be green pedestrian oriented. Then a row of buildings with a road and sidewalk on the other building side. Larger green spaces would be at the ends of the canal.
    Enough thoughts for a start.
    Clark J. Shaughnessy, Architect AIA Emeritus
    [email protected]

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