Our company, LS Group, are developers and builders in town, latterly in mainly the East Side and Elliottborough. I recently attended a conference organized by Historic Charleston and focused on affordable housing. Nothing I heard gave me a positive feeling and general consensus was that it’s “awfully difficult”. This is not the case in part for the reasons explained below and it would help greatly if our leaders changed their mindset.
Charleston City code mandates an affordable element in planning applications. That element is typically 15% and limited to 10 years duration i.e. it’s transient. Many other jurisdictions in this country allow for mitigation or offset instead meaning that the developer pays to have an alternative affordable element created nearby as defined buy the city’s needs. Building affordable housing in high rise condominiums is both expensive and sub-optimum for a population needing neighborhoods, community interaction, space and self determination. Building elsewhere will produce more product at a much faster pace than is currently achieved by City code.
In our circle of contacts is a group of concerned developers similar to ourselves and willing to create beautiful mixed use neighborhoods with a strong, large, permanent affordable element. We have the support of neighborhood committees and local churches and the City of N Charleston. We already own land for hundreds of such homes within a 5 minute drive or 15 minute cycle of Calhoun St downtown. Help us, help our City by helping bring mitigation on to the debating table producing the economic driver to build out this opportunity, we can and will do the rest.
Respectfully yours, Chris Leigh-Jones
I was walking around Colonial Lake which has become a wonderful gathering place for lots of neighbors, near and far, to walk and enjoy the beautiful lake and plantings. I always speak to anyone I pass as I walk by. I thought about how simple looking someone in the eye and saying “Good Morning” or “Hello” is and yet how meaningful it is. Acknowledging someone walking by means they matter, they are not invisible to me, and they deserve me to speak and look at them. In a time, when we are looking, as individuals, for simple acts that matter and give us some control over kindness and respect, I can’t think of anything more powerful than just speaking to another person we pass. Everyone can do it, it doesn’t cost a penny and usually you are rewarded with a response back.
NYC and other cities issue citations if you fail to clean up after your pet; Charleston needs to consider doing the same. In some upper peninsular areas no area of grass is safe to step on and areas like Simonton park have become a virtual pet toilet with little to no grass surviving (despite provided waste bags and trash cans). Please clean up after your pet!
Let’s train a lot of the jobless to be street guides like in Washington DC and other popular tourist spots. Everytime I take a walk downtown there are people gazing about dazed by the little streets and lack of signage. We could have wandering ambassadors helping them out and able to point visitors in the right direction. Even smaller SC towns have better signage ie Aiken comes to mind.
LED streetlights can save a lot of money for cities, but they can also disrupt sleep patterns for nearby residents. All LEDs are not created equal. Some cities are setting guidelines that require the warmer spectrum lights. Berlin and Davis, CA have worked with citizens to design a more pleasing night time landscape. Charleston needs to address this issue now as some streets (Kirkland Lane, for example) already look like prison yards or strip mall parking lots.
I found out the light is not LED, but the intensity is unsafe, according to the latest AMA guidelines. The metal halide 5000k "color" is well over the 3000k that is considered safe according to the AMA. Please read this article: http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/21/health/led-streetlights-ama/index.html?campaign_id=A100&campaign_type=Email
Set up the system so citizens can pay their taxes monthly, quarterly or intermittently. People should be able to pay when they can instead of right around Christmas. There are way too many properties that end up with tax liens on them.
Mayor Riley’s office has indicated their intent to re-claim , by eminent domain, the strip of land which extends into the Ashley River, following an unfavorable court ruling. The rationale given is to make the land available for all to use, as a permanent public waterfront access , which is certainly admirable. However, given the historic inconsistency the city has demonstrated in how they appropriate green spaces (DeReef park, as one recent example), the new mayor should insist that the eminent domain seizure come with a funded conservation easement, that permanently secures the land for public use and with funding for long term operation and maintenance of the crab dock.
We need public trash cans – desperately! We need them on the corners near the college students, we need them on the corners near Hampton Park; we need trash cans so people will stop littering in our gorgeous city that so many marvel at. How can we get this done?
South Windermere is an historic neighborhood located in West Ashley that is bordered by highway 17 and is across the Ashley River from the Charleston Peninsula. The are many reasons why people are attracted to this location, not only for the prime location, beautiful homes and the canopy of old live oak trees but for the convenience to shopping and local amenities. The area has two commercial districts called the South Windermere Shopping Center and the Moreland Shopping Center, which both are in walking distance from the neighborhood. With the growth of popularity and population the neighborhood brings, the commercial area of South Windermere is the one area that needs to be improved. With South Windermere almost being ninety years old, you could say that yesterday’s solutions causes future problems and this can be said for the commercial area of the neighborhood. One solution of many is the use of mixed-use development, this is the combination of residential, commercial, or cultural uses, where those functions are physically and functionally integrated, and provides pedestrian connections. The use of mixed-use developments would bring many benefits to the Windermere shopping centers. Some of the benefits would include greater housing variety and density, reduced distances between housing, workplaces, and retail businesses, stronger neighborhood character, and pedestrian and bicycle-friendly environments. The type of mixed-use zoning would be specifically urban residential/commercial. This would include multi-story residential buildings with the existing commercial and civic uses on the ground floor. This could happen with the addition of apartment space on top of the existing commercial buildings. Obviously to keep a down sized feel to the area it would only be two story building unlike most mixed-use development, which are normally three to four story buildings. With this it can be said that mixed-use development will make South Windermere a better and stronger community.
Our city could really use a “Guerrilla Gardening” chapter that trains their “sites” on the tiny green spaces left on the Peninsula. We need some plant intervention!
For every hotel room on the peninsula an equal number of rental residential properties. So if the city approves a hotel of 300 rooms the developer would have to construct 100 three room apartments…you know the eye for an eye theory only a room for a room!
Isle of Palms residents love our sea turtles. But plastic bags often end up in the ocean where sea turtles or other sea life ingest them, injuring or killing the animal. We all know that most of those single-use plastic bags don’t get recycled. There are recyclable and biodegradable alternatives readily available. Moving away from plastic bags means a cleaner island and a cleaner ocean, which is, in turn, good for IOP’s tourism and economy. We not only know that the constant stream of consumption of plastic bags is not sustainable, but we also know that keeping our ocean and beaches healthy and beautiful is good for local businesses. Let’s do our part and take action. Let’s break our addiction to single-use plastic bags on Isle of Palms. Visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/banthebagIOP, or contact us at: banthebagIOP@gmail.com
One by one tear down the aging ghetto housing developments around Charleston replacing them with creative areas of varied styles of mixed housing. Six to eight unit apartment buildings, four or five contiguous town houses, single family and patio homes. Have mixed incomes not just section 8. Half the senior housing would be two bedroom two bath units so those on limited social security or pensions could have a room mate and share expenses just like students do. Racially varied not all black, white or Hispanic. Currently public housing is controlled and dominated by blacks. There is nothing for poor others including seniors. Include green space and recreation areas.
Ghettos beget ghetto behavior and Charleston’s need to be repurposed. Now that’s what I think should happen but what will likely happen: All aging public housing sites sit on valuable land (all land in Charleston is valuable) soon the government will say “it’s costing too much to maintain these units”. Then they’ll build a few more in the worst possible out of the way flood lands they can find and sell off the old site to some high end developer for gazillions.
Create a special consumer tax on adult entertainment – downloading X rated movies in hotels, entrance to strip clubs and on novelties purchased within the county. The club, hotel or place of business is not taxed- the consumer is. This has been done in other states. I have a group of constitutional lawyers who would love to work on this concept here. Do you think someone going into a strip club is not going in because of an additional fifty cents fee on the cover? Think a viewer is not going to pay an additional twenty five cents to watch an X-rated movie in a hotel? Revenue could be used for whatever the county needs – roads, infrastructure, education, etc.
If the idea of walking and cycling is to be promoted, and I hope it is, ALL developments, retail and housing, should have accessible green space and parks WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE. Should there be significant impact fees on developers/every new property and every new development, to assist with purchasing space for satellite parking for downtown Charleston, improved bus services and bike transportation from these satellite parking areas, and more accessible parks and green space nearby to mitigate increased density that is appearing on the peninsula and nearby? I think this should be of the highest importance. We can’t wait until every space has been filled then wish we had created parks and open space, or better transportation options. Are we already behind in this endeavor or is there a great plan I am unaware of? I feel this should be a top priority to keep Charleston and the surrounding areas livable.