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King Street, Charleston, SC


TBurban

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  • 2 weeks later...

I completely agree. You beat me to the punch. I lived in Charleston from the early 90s until very recently. King St used to be lined with diverse and great locally owned stores. Now aside from a few places here and there, the majority are completely gone. Or being pushed farther up King until they are run off the Peninsula completely. Architecturally it will always be a pretty street, but you lose the intangible of being someplace unique when Charleston's Main Street is a walkable version of a strip mall. Its very sad :(

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You should really consider going there and checking it out. While there are quite a few chains there, it is not ubiquitous. There are still plently of local stores and tons of local restaurants there. Just make sure you venture off of King St. Charleston will always be unlike any other city in America, regardless of what stores it happens to have at any particular time.

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I completely agree. You beat me to the punch. I lived in Charleston from the early 90s until very recently. King St used to be lined with diverse and great locally owned stores. Now aside from a few places here and there, the majority are completely gone. Or being pushed farther up King until they are run off the Peninsula completely. Architecturally it will always be a pretty street, but you lose the intangible of being someplace unique when Charleston's Main Street is a walkable version of a strip mall. Its very sad :(

While I agree with the thrust of your post, to say that there are no places left for local stores on Upper King is not true. There are many there now, and room for many more. Converting from local shops to national ones in the Lower King corridor did make it lose some appeal, but what can you do? It's a free country. How many cities would love to have ANY significant retail presence in it's downtown? Hundreds if not thousands across the country.

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Upper King has quite a few unique stores. Its definately not anythign like Lower King. The problem is that many people won't venture up there to see what is going on. I know that a couple of them of them relocated from New York City to be in Charleston, which says alot.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Unfortunately, many of these type streets are only renovated / maintained because of the money these chain stores can generate. I guess the real question is, "Is it worth having them to get the these buildings restored?" Maybe it's a give and take thing. We all complain about these Gap / Banana Republic stores everywhere.... but someone must be shopping there!

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Unfortunately, many of these type streets are only renovated / maintained because of the money these chain stores can generate. I guess the real question is, "Is it worth having them to get the these buildings restored?" Maybe it's a give and take thing. We all complain about these Gap / Banana Republic stores everywhere.... but someone must be shopping there!

They do shop there, but I want to know why? Why would you go to Charleston on vacation and buy the same junk you can buy in your mall at home?

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  • 2 weeks later...

And this will kill whatever charm and individuality remains. Rents on Upper King are getting very high. Bookstore Cafe moved to Mt. P. due to the landlord wanting to jack the rent from $6K to 8K per month. The only reason the owner could even swing that was due to catering business and the cheap rent (not downtown) for the catering side. I don't get what people's fascination is with chain stores. For many of them you can order online so what is the point of having them on King Street? If you want Borders, B&N, Best Buy etc. there are plenty of them in various shopping areas.

I notice this sort of idea runs throughout urbanplanet.org on the forums, as well as people clamoring for tall buildings/skylines. Is the whole point of this site the concept of all cities being clones of one another except for basic geography? I don't understand the appeal of that notion either. :(

Obviously, some of us just are NOT shoppers! The whole point is not simply the procuring of merchandise. It is an EXPERIENCE . . . a journey, not a destination . . . encompassing good eats, people watching, sunshine, the beat of the only urban place in South Carolina, the sights, etc., etc. Ordering from a home computer? BLAH! No, no . . for we who love to shop, we want the chain stores I mentioned in Charleston because it

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I think Digital Sandlapper makes a great point. Chain stores have been staples in downtowns for decades. What most of you seem to be irritated at is that these chains also exists as bigbox sprawl stores as well. It seems to be selective though. When a chain like Publix opens up a store in an urban setting, everyone gets excited, but when its GAP, people get irritated. The important part is the urban setting. Why else would suburbs around the nation be immitating downtowns in these "Town Centers" and such?

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I think Digital Sandlapper makes a great point. Chain stores have been staples in downtowns for decades. What most of you seem to be irritated at is that these chains also exists as bigbox sprawl stores as well. It seems to be selective though. When a chain like Publix opens up a store in an urban setting, everyone gets excited, but when its GAP, people get irritated. The important part is the urban setting. Why else would suburbs around the nation be immitating downtowns in these "Town Centers" and such?

Spartan, I think you're on to something here . . perhaps the irritation is directed at those chains that have been guilty of big boxes. As everyone knows, the REALLY big boxes--Wal-Mart, Kmart, Home Depot, Lowe's, Best Buy, Circuit City, and the like--obviously can't fit downtown, and shouldn't . . although it has happened in Manhattan and a few other places that can fit them into an adaptive reuse or redevelopment.

The chains I mentioned only need medium-sized spaces, and upper King and the vicinity has plenty of that being underutilized, or sitting vacant for now. The old Read Brothers store would make the perfect home for one of these, or a new (but well-designed) infill project, with parking garage included, on the opposite corner of Spring Street.

There are also some cool old warehouses between Spring Street and Huger Street . . . the new bridge has uncovered that area's great potential. I hope they can convert them into an art district to change the fabric a little. This former blighted area of Charleston could evolve over the years into a new "Uptown Arts District".

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Manhattan is an anomaly in the USA. Very few places can compare to that. I think Charleston is more similar to Boston, perhaps. I highly doubt we'll see one of those box stores downtown in any form, unless they have a miniature store concept.

Upper King will get a huge boost when the Midtown project has been completed.

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