Nearly 500 people submitted comments online weighing in on the controversial Union Pier project ahead of today’s planning Commission meeting, putting the project on a collision course with the community it’s set to impact. Members of the public are expected to show up in droves to the meeting in person to give hours of testimony before the commission.
Local critics of the proposed downtown development have rushed to parse through the 400-page planning document for the project over the last several weeks. The most recent draft of the proposal, publicly released last week, calls for 500,000 square feet of retail and office space, 1,600 residential units and buildings up to eight stories high. Under a credit system included in the newest version of the proposal, no less than 10% of the total housing units on site must be affordable units.
Just in time for today’s meeting is a satirical website, DisUnionPier.com, that is filled with rubs poking fun at the project sponsor, the S.C. State Ports Authority, and its developer, Lowe.
“Charleston has an opportunity to reimagine its waterfront and rebuild Union Pier into a special place all Charlestonians can enjoy. Unfortunately, this sure as hell isn’t it,” the website’s opening reads.
DisUnionPier.com is almost a carbon copy of the original Union Pier website. But it adds a rendering of a towering Trojan horse in the idyllic art style of the original site. DisunionPier.com also mocks the Ports Authority’s talking points and implies an aggressive ignorance of Charleston’s history.
A coalition of the Historic Charleston Foundation, the Coastal Conservation League and the Preservation Society of Charleston will ask the Planning Commission to deny the proposed zoning document, known as a Planned Unit Development, for the 64-acre property. But the project will still ultimately reach City Council for final consideration by mid-July, as state law requires proposals to be submitted to a governing body within a month of their planning commission review. Today’s meeting represents the first opportunity for the city to formally support or oppose the project.