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monsoon

Highrises in SC (where to find them)

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So where are the highrises in South Carolina? The results are shocking to those not familiar with the state.

Source emporius.com using their definition of 12 stories or more.

  • Myrtle Beach/North Myrtle Beach - 128

  • Charlotte - 100 (listed for comparison purposes)

  • Columbia - 33

  • Greenville - 14

  • Charleston/North Charleston - 13

  • Spartanburg - 6

Are highrise buildings a real sign of density and urban development?

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I think the answer is yes & no - certainly a thin one block wide stretch in Myrtle Beach is dense. But the population doesn't reflect the built density, just as the case would be with hotels.

But my view of density / urbanism doesn't ABSOLUTELY require towers, in many cases there are denser city blocks in Atlanta that are only single family than city blocks that are only condo towers. The reasoning is often there might be only one or two condo towers & the rest of the block is comprised of parking. A urban single family neighborhood can pack houses in less than a .1 acre lot & when you consider that families are more likely to live in a house than a condo, the population can be much greater.

But there is some difference between built density & a urban area, I'm not sure what it is.

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I think the answer is yes & no - certainly a thin one block wide stretch in Myrtle Beach is dense. But the population doesn't reflect the built density, just as the case would be with hotels.

Most highrises in Myrtle Beach are Condos. They have not been building that many hotels there.

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^ You're right, I didn't mean to suggest that they were hotels, but due to most of the condo units only being occupied part of the year - census wise they are viewed simililarly as hotels are.

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But on another note - it would be interesting to map density by units per building or units per measuring area (census block) for hotels & office buildings. I believe condo towers, even if no one is claiming to live in one, is still counted in the census - so you should be able to view the number of occupied/unoccupied units for Myrtle Beach.

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Well from what I know from my sources in Myrtle Beach, most of the condos stay rented year round now. Myrtle Beach is busier now in the winter than it used to be in the summer 20 years ago.

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It would be interesting if the Census started a tourist based population, just as they recently provided a mid-day population for cities (based on employment). But that could be done my reviewing the total number of units, unfortunately I'm not aware of hotels being included.

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I think that it does not. Highrises are staples in America, and they are used as status symbols to reflect the prosperity (and size) of a city- more skyscrapers = bigger city. They are pretty things to look at. They do contribute to the urban environment where they exist (and if they are built correctly). The urban environment does not require these structures though. Solid mid-rise (5-10 stories) buildings will accomplish the same goal, and frequently in a better way. They keep the built environment at a human scale. Modern skyscrapers often fail this test. One only needs to look at Buckhead in Atlanta to see it.... they have lots of existing and planned skyscrapers, but most of them don't offer much in the way of accomodating pedestrians (eg shops and restaurants).

Myrtle Beach is the same way. It has the most higrise buildings in the Carolina's, but most would not consider it a truely urban place. Each of the hotels and condo palces are exclusive joints. With the exception of the old part of MB, that place offers nothing to the pedestrian. You have to drive everywhere.

Look at Charleston. It, by far, has the best urban environment in the Carolinas. Density, scale, everything. Charleston takes it all. It has 11 skyscrapers (N Chas has 2). There is no doubt in my mind.

So, as far as I am concerned, the answer is no. Skyscrapers can (and do) add alot, but they do not define density and urban development. I know that if Spartanburg never built another highrise, but had plenty of mixed use low-mid rise buildings I would be quite happy.

Well from what I know from my sources in Myrtle Beach, most of the condos stay rented year round now. Myrtle Beach is busier now in the winter than it used to be in the summer 20 years ago.

Its so much busier that hotels keep on more of their seasonal employees to keep things running. I want to know what percentage of these things are condos. I know that many are hotel/condo combos.

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Myrtle Beach is the same way. It has the most higrise buildings in the Carolina's, but most would not consider it a truely urban place. Each of the hotels and condo palces are exclusive joints. With the exception of the old part of MB, that place offers nothing to the pedestrian. You have to drive everywhere.

Look at Charleston. It, by far, has the best urban environment in the Carolinas. Density, scale, everything. Charleston takes it all. It has 11 skyscrapers (N Chas has 2). There is no doubt in my mind.

Well actually that is not true about Myrtle Beach. You have a 110 block long stretch of development that features wide sidewalks, and just a couple of streets over is Business Hwy 17 where every business under the sun is located. Between the water front and Hwy 17 (and just on the other side of 17) there is a lot of low rise residential development that is not as expensive, so you have lots of people living there in a small area. Lots of people do walk there if the sidewalks are any indication. I don't know of any other urban area in SC that would compare.

In regards to Charleston the old pennisula was built with walking in mind. However with the exception of the few blocks that make up the battery and slave market area, I can't say that I have seen that many people walking around there. Certainly not at the levels seen in Myrtle Beach. Given the real estate costs there, old Charleston is one of the most exclusive places in SC, and if you are not a tourist, then you are very rich and most of these people tend to drive.

While a few condo/tels exist in Myrtle Beach, the vast majority of highrises being built are condos. I don't have any figures though.

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Well actually that is not true about Myrtle Beach. You have a 110 block long stretch of development that features wide sidewalks, and just a couple of streets over is Business Hwy 17 where every business under the sun is located. Between the water front and Hwy 17 (and just on the other side of 17) there is a lot of low rise residential development that is not as expensive, so you have lots of people living there in a small area. Lots of people do walk there if the sidewalks are any indication. I don't know of any other urban area in SC that would compare.

In regards to Charleston the old pennisula was built with walking in mind. However with the exception of the few blocks that make up the battery and slave market area, I can't say that I have seen that many people walking around there. Certainly not at the levels seen in Myrtle Beach. Given the real estate costs there, old Charleston is one of the most exclusive places in SC, and if you are not a tourist, then you are very rich and most of these people tend to drive.

While a few condo/tels exist in Myrtle Beach, the vast majority of highrises being built are condos. I don't have any figures though.

You obviously haven

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The number of people that are walking in Myrtle Beach are doing so b/c they likely don't have a purty enough Grand-Am to cruise the highway on ;)

But otherwise, the few times I've been to Charleston it was always full of people walking along King St & side streets. But again - towers don't make a place urban, and I'm still not quite understanding the disregard for Charleston's urban environment. But then again, I don't understand why people like Myrtle Beach :)

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There is no disregard for Charleston's urban environment except to say the tourist shops on King's street don't really comprise one for the vast majority of resident's that live in the area. The judge of that is where are the places for ordinary people? And you don't have to walk too far from King's street where you won't find anyone walking around because due to over-gentrification, Charleston is basically a dead city. Most of the homes on the pennisula (the historical part) are owned by property investors who don't live there for much of the year, and it is basically illegal to build much of anything new. All of the new growth in Charleston is in the sprawling suburbs and as a result, it resembles most of the other cities in SC.

In Myrtle Beach, growth means dense highrises because there is no land left on the island that make up the city. In the rest of SC, that mostly means building low rises in the suburbs.

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There is no disregard for Charleston's urban environment except to say the tourist shops on King's street don't really comprise one for the vast majority of resident's that live in the area. The judge of that is where are the places for ordinary people? And you don't have to walk too far from King's street where you won't find anyone walking around because due to over-gentrification, Charleston is basically a dead city. Most of the homes on the pennisula (the historical part) are owned by property investors who don't live there for much of the year, and it is basically illegal to build much of anything new. All of the new growth in Charleston is in the sprawling suburbs and as a result, it resembles most of the other cities in SC.

In Myrtle Beach, growth means dense highrises because there is no land left on the island that make up the city. In the rest of SC, that mostly means building low rises in the suburbs.

You might not notice, but there are mid-high rise residential buildings in that area, my garndmother lives amongst some of them and its not rare to see many of the residents of her building taking a shopping excursion on King Street. Charleston is the fathest thing from a dead city, the unreal assumption that all of the houses belong to investors just isnt true. The population of downtown, though it was going down for a while is now starting to rebound. There is always a good amount of people walking East Bay street to St. Phillips street.... Ordinary people shop there and all the way up the street where tourists ussually dont go. I am humored to find that you believe Myrtle beach has a supreme urban environment than any of the big 3...

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You might not notice, but there are mid-high rise residential buildings in that area, my garndmother lives amongst some of them and its not rare to see many of the residents of her building taking a shopping excursion on King Street. Charleston is the fathest thing from a dead city, the unreal assumption that all of the houses belong to investors just isnt true. The population of downtown, though it was going down for a while is now starting to rebound. There is always a good amount of people walking East Bay street to St. Phillips street.... Ordinary people shop there and all the way up the street where tourists ussually dont go. I am humored to find that you believe Myrtle beach has a supreme urban environment than any of the big 3...

Your grandmother must live in Canterbury House. That building is by far the tallest building in that area (12 stories or so, I believe).

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There is no disregard for Charleston's urban environment except to say the tourist shops on King's street don't really comprise one for the vast majority of resident's that live in the area. The judge of that is where are the places for ordinary people? And you don't have to walk too far from King's street where you won't find anyone walking around because due to over-gentrification, Charleston is basically a dead city. Most of the homes on the pennisula (the historical part) are owned by property investors who don't live there for much of the year, and it is basically illegal to build much of anything new. All of the new growth in Charleston is in the sprawling suburbs and as a result, it resembles most of the other cities in SC.

In Myrtle Beach, growth means dense highrises because there is no land left on the island that make up the city. In the rest of SC, that mostly means building low rises in the suburbs.

The shops on King Street are NOT tourist shops! Those souvenir trinket tourist-traps are around the Market ONLY, thank God . . . Sure, the shops along King cater to tourists-but they cater primarily to college students and other residents of the metro area, and visitors. This latter group, a huge market to cater to, are either business travelers or leisure travelers, i.e. people who choose downtown Charleston as a shopping, dining, etc. destination from nearby cities and regions--Columbia, Savannah, Charlotte, Greenville, etc. So, the word

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Your grandmother must live in Canterbury House. That building is by far the tallest building in that area (12 stories or so, I believe).

No, she live in the ansonborough house.... a bit smaller...

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Columbia has as many high rises as Greenville, Charleston/N.Charleston, and Spartanburg combined. lol...I didn't think Charlotte had that much. I know they are tall as hell but I didn't think there was that many

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There is no disregard for Charleston's urban environment except to say the tourist shops on King's street don't really comprise one for the vast majority of resident's that live in the area. The judge of that is where are the places for ordinary people? And you don't have to walk too far from King's street where you won't find anyone walking around because due to over-gentrification, Charleston is basically a dead city. Most of the homes on the pennisula (the historical part) are owned by property investors who don't live there for much of the year, and it is basically illegal to build much of anything new. All of the new growth in Charleston is in the sprawling suburbs and as a result, it resembles most of the other cities in SC.

That is simply not true. You are correct in that the tourist areas have more pedestrian traffic- thats a given. There are over 50,000 people that live on the peninsula year round, which is something like 4.5 sq miles. People walk there. I see people walking, running, etc. every time I go there. Most of the homes that are seasonal are in the South of Broad neighborhood, and perhaps some in Harleston Village or the French Quarter/Ansonborough. Certainly the activity is not going to be at the same level as King St, because tourists don't go much further than that. But so say Charleston is dead is simply ignorance IMO. Perhaps you need to spend more time outside of the touristy areas of the peninsula.

Myrtle Beach DOES have pedestrian traffic. I did not mean to imply otherwise. My point is that the facilities in MB are not set up to be condusive to pedestrian traffic, particularly as you get further away from 'downtown.' The hotels don't have shops facing the road. Those shops on Kings Hwy/Bus 17 a few blocks away are designed for cars. The city is simply not designed for pedestrians thw way that Charleston is. In Charleston, its just easier to walk, whereas in MB that is just not the case (unless you are tring to go down Ocean Blvd at 11:30 at night ;) ) The only exception to this is the old downtown of Myrtle Beach- say between 31st N and 17th S- now if we want to confine or discussion to that, then you may have more of an arguement for MB- but then you have to cut the vast majority of hotels/condos etc. out of the picture entirely. I have been to MB several times. I've stayed near downtown, the north end of MB proper, and in North Myrtle. All 3 are different worlds. Downtown was cool because we could walk to most of our destinations (the beach, the Pavillion, restaurants, etc).... the other two were not at all. There were a couple restaurants nearby, but for the most part we had to drive everywhere to do anything (except the beach).

Its also difficult to compare growth in MB to growth in the rest of SC because of the presence of the ocean. Its pretty straight forward, but I'll show some stats later one to make my point.

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That is simply not true. You are correct in that the tourist areas have more pedestrian traffic- thats a given. There are over 50,000 people that live on the peninsula year round, which is something like 4.5 sq miles.

Well thats not true according to this source. It was around 33K in 2000 which represents a drop from 36K in 1990. And if you only count the part of the Pennisula, between the battery and Hwy 17, the part mentioned above, then you only havd 19K living there which isn't that large at all.

Over gentrification is driving people out of the pennisula. I have many many relatives in Charleston and most of them never go into the pennisula anymore simply because unless you are into tourist activities, there really isn't as much to do there anymore. And the place stays clogged up with cars so its an ordeal to try to go there anyway.

The only exception to this is the old downtown of Myrtle Beach- say between 31st N and 17th S-

I grew up around Hurl Rock park which is about 22nd avenue South and there are a lot of houses still around there. I used to ride my bike to Myrtle Beach Grade School which used to be at 5th avenue North. There is pedestrian activity all down Oak Street where a large gridded network exists, and there are single family homes all the way up to 82nd avenue north. Its a lot larger than you are making it out but I admit that much of this is out of the eyes of tourists that go there. (mostly by design)

Its also difficult to compare growth in MB to growth in the rest of SC because of the presence of the ocean. Its pretty straight forward, but I'll show some stats later one to make my point.
Indeed. I agree comparisons are difficult. The fact that Myrtle Beach has 2X the number of highrises than the rest of the state combined is but one measure

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Well thats not true according to this source. It was around 33K in 2000 which represents a drop from 36K in 1990. And if you only count the part of the Pennisula, between the battery and Hwy 17, the part mentioned above, then you only havd 19K living there which isn't that large at all.

Over gentrification is driving people out of the pennisula. I have many many relatives in Charleston and most of them never go into the pennisula anymore simply because unless you are into tourist activities, there really isn't as much to do there anymore. And the place stays clogged up with cars so its an ordeal to try to go there anyway.

I grew up around Hurl Rock park which is about 22nd avenue South and there are a lot of houses still around there. I used to ride my bike to Myrtle Beach Grade School which used to be at 5th avenue North. There is pedestrian activity all down Oak Street where a large gridded network exists, and there are single family homes all the way up to 82nd avenue north. Its a lot larger than you are making it out but I admit that much of this is out of the eyes of tourists that go there. (mostly by design)

Indeed. I agree comparisons are difficult. The fact that Myrtle Beach has 2X the number of highrises than the rest of the state combined is but one measure

33,000 is nothing to balk at though. That is still a lot of people (larger than the city of MB- approx. 25,000), in much less space. The 22,000 figure you use is similar. I refuse to believe that Myrtle Beach somehow manages to have more pedestrian traffic than Charleston- particularly if you take tourists out of the mix. Let us not forget that Myrtle Beach- by far- has the most tourist traffic. Believe it or not, I am aware of the SFR in Myrtle Beach, and that it has a pretty solid grid network. I based my definition on a purely unscientific method. I looked at Google Earth and picked what looked like the walkable commercial district. Having not lived there, it is hard to judge where old MB stops and the new stuff begins. Feel free to provide a better definition. It isn't really fair to compare all of MB to the Charleston peninsula.

It would be very interesting to compare downtown Myrtle Beach to the Charleston peninsula. I will have to fire up the ol' GIS when I get back to Clemson and see what I can learn.

I'll leave the status of Charleston's downtown as a destination argument to the Charlestonians. I think you are wrong though. I think that downtown is even more of a destination than it used to be. Perhaps if you don't like that type of activity, it wouldn't be for you. But hey- to each his own, right?

The point here that I want to emphasize is that Charleston's lack of highrises does not detract from its urbanity in anyway. Its Charleston's case, it makes it much, much better.

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I don't think you and I are on the same page. I quite agree that Charleston is a destination. Lots of tourists go there to see the historical buildings, museums, etc. But I don't think the pennisula could be considered an urban place given the gentrification that has taken place there. No argument from me however that the streetlife from a tourist perspective is pretty good. It's not to my tastes anymore since all of the artist stuff is gone now, but it appeals to a lot of people looking for a place to visit.

Likewise I don't really mean to say that Myrtle Beach is an urban place either. Certainly I will be the first to say there is a lot of bad poorly designed development there as well, but I did find the stats that the place has 128 highrises, even more than Charlotte, quite interesting. It does have the potential to become that way when you consider that even the part that you define as the old town is not a trivial part of land when you consider this is still almost 50 blocks by 4-5 blocks.

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Perhaps we are on slightly different pages. But not entirely. I mean destination for Charlestonians (not just tourists).

But keeping on topic...

You seemed to imply earlier that if you take away the touristy parts of town (or remove the tourists from it), Charleston basicly has very little (If you weren't, then humor me, as it will make my point later on :) ). But take the same situation and apply it to Myrtle Beach. Myrtle Beach would have nothing. It would be Edisto Beach. Charleston would still be an urban place even without the tourists. You can argue that gentrification is dwindiling the 'purity' of its urban nature, and you may be correct, but I think that its built environment (i.e. urbanity) is still there. You make it sound as if there are no people left living on the peninsula but I challenge you to walk anywhere South of Broad and not find people living there and doing their thing. Urbanity refers just as much to the built environment as it does the people who occupy it.

That said, I agree that Myrtle Beach has the potential to be a very unique urban place, given that it is on such a narrow strip of land. I think if they changed the way that the hotels were built somehow to encourage a more street oriented hotel (perhaps on the inland lots) that everyone would walk around a lot more there.

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The peninsula is definitely a destination for Charlestonians (at least the younger set). Where else are you going to go? North Charleston has some retail, but it is inconvenient. The same goes for Mount Pleasant.

I think it is hard to argue that Charleston's urbanity is in any way compromised by gentrification. Sure, some national retailers have gradually replaced some of the "charm" of the local retailers, but to me that does not impact urbanity. When I think of urbanity, I think of dense developments that are conducive to walking (and thus, capture pedestrian interest). King Street certainly does this, as do other streets like East Bay, Meeting, etc.

Charleston got its urban feel because it was a fairly well-planned city. Things gradually developed near the ports. Charleston got a huge head start on other southern cities in terms of urbanity (it was once larger than New York City in terms of population, after all). They do a good job of using this to their advantage, especially for people who like the coast, plenty of history, and an old south feel. It is obviously a desirable place, given the fact that the metro is growing.

And for a metro its size, Charleston has a lot to offer in terms of nightlife (dining, bars, etc.). The city is walkable, which helps connect everything. One reason I think it has developed that way is because parking is not easy to come by. You do not see huge parking lots downtown. For the most part, you see parking buildings or very small lots where you have to pay to park. There aren't even that many metered spots. So from the get-go, people were encouraged to walk to get around and I think that has helped reinforce Charleston's urban feel.

Outside of the downtown touristy area, however, there is not significant foot traffic. Nobody really walks down Calhoun Street west of the College of Charleston, and the closer you get to Highway 17 to the north the foot traffic drops a lot as well. This is perhaps due to the lack of development in these areas, as well as the fact that safety is more in question the closer you get to 17.

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