CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Union Pier Advocacy Forum was hosted by the Historic Charleston Foundation and they say they focused on Union Pier because it has been a major topic of discussion for many months.
“The development at the Union Pier Terminal is the largest development project in the history of Charleston,” Anne Blessing with the Historic Charleston Foundation said.
Local preservation organizations are advocating for a better community-led vision for the Union Pier Redevelopment Plan.
“We are famous for protecting what makes our city special and inspiring to others,” Blessing said. “Now, we must continue as careful, thoughtful stewards of the last undeveloped 65 acres of our valuable and historic waterfront.”
Leaders at Thursday’s forum say they still have many questions and concerns about the South Carolina Ports Authority’s latest proposal adversely impacting the integrity of the city and its skyline.
“Too many people have worked so hard over too many generations to protect this incredible city,” Historic Charleston Foundation president & CEO Winslow Hastie said, “and we absolutely cannot let them down. There is a better way, we just have to be vigilant.”
Coastal Conservation League executive director Faith Rivers James says she has four primary concerns, which include ships docking for extended periods of time near the Union Pier site, the need for more green space than currently proposed, providing safe, accessible roads for drivers and people who walk or bike alongside them and how the proposed development will handle flooding.
“They’ve told us that they’re going to give us some innovative solutions to deal with stormwater,” James said. “They’re going to put in some big pipes to help Ansonborough drain out into the harbor directly. We’d love to see the details on that engineering.”
Brian Turner of the Preservation Society of Charleston says his organization will continue working with the Historic Charleston Foundation and the Coastal Conservation League as they continue to envision a way forward for this “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity at Charleston’s crown jewel waterfront.
“We all as organizations have a right to be concerned and I’m just so grateful that we’re leveraging our impact collectively,” Turner said.
News 2 reached out to the South Carolina Ports Authority and they responded with the statement below:
“For nearly a year, we have been sharing concepts and conversations with the community. This has been a collaborative process from the start. The redevelopment of Union Pier will create more spaces for Charlestonians to live, work and play. The plan was designed with Charleston in mind, with significant flooding measures, more affordable housing, more access to the waterfront, better connectivity between cultural assets and 18 acres of new park space. We have listened, and incorporated community feedback. The city is undertaking its rigorous, public vetting process. Alongside that, we continue to listen and meet.” – Barbara Melvin, South Carolina Ports President and CEO