Photo credit: Charleston Post & Courier

Discussion about the Union Pier redevelopment plan has largely focused on the buildings and such to be constructed on the 40 acres of high ground and ideas such as smaller lots sizes and buildings that reflect the granular and diverse character of the city.

But we tend to overlook how truly significant it is to contemplate the future for the last 30 acres of undeveloped waterfront on the peninsula. This really is the final opportunity for Charleston residents to gain physical access to the historic waterfront without obtaining membership in a private club or residency in an adjacent building or negotiating through a boat ramp or marina or getting a seat in a waterfront restaurant. It could even be argued that focusing on this public space could better inform the future building fabric than attempts to codify the architecture.

Unfortunately, what has been proposed reflects the trend that the Madrid-based urban planner Alvaro Sevilla-Buitrago cautioned against earlier this year: “Public administrations collaborate with private actors, corporate sponsors, and groups of middle- and upper-class gentrifiers to promote sterile projects that create sanitized public space commons and consumption centered conviviality to attract high-income households, tourists, and potential customers.”

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