Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Charleston native

City wide height limits for Charleston

100 posts in this topic

Good night, I read about Clement's plan being virtually another I'On, then I read this s--t! The link is below. It appears that the city of Chas is trying to limit all heights of commercial buildings not just DT, but in all of its city limits...WHICH WOULD INCLUDE MAGNOLIA! :sick: Several proposals calling for more restrictive zoning rules in the city were postponed Tuesday night. Check out this quote: "Another plan called for limiting the height of all new buildings off of the peninsula on land zoned for commercial or industrial use. The change would apply across the far-flung city limits, from Johns Island to the Cainhoy peninsula...the other plan, to limit the height of new development on commercial and industrial land located off the peninsula, was also deferred. "

It appears that the city is not as proactive about containing suburban growth and building up the Neck as we initially thought, and this is truly pathetic. For a community that dreamed and built the new Cooper River bridge, the leaders can only dream small when planning to revitalize a central area of town. Why do these morons think that they can only build short, stubby buildings??!?! I'm glad some developers stepped in to postpone the meeting...notice that the city was planning this proposal under the table.

Charleston Council Defers Zoning Changes

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


...People like sprawling suburbs and that's not going to change, although we're presenting more and better options.

...It was basically criticized as a more sterile, cleaned-up version of downtown Charleston, yet lacks the character of a true city that comes from the diversity among its people.

Keep us posted on the book, sounds interesting. You're right the sprawling suburbs are deeply ingrained in society's psyche via the american dream of a detached house with its own yard. The problem is that natural and rural lands that are compromised or sacrificed for this universal dream have no prescence in the mind of people and therefore is not considered a loss to society. How do we express a valuation of these resources as they are, untouched and undeveloped?

I've always thought of I'on as a repackaged suburban developement in new urbanist wrapping paper. It simply does not function as a city. Its all window dressing, no significant office space, it wasn't concieved in relation to any public transportation options (granted there's only one), its socially and economically exclusive and therefore racially and culturally exclusive.

I believe instead of simply presenting better options in response to the "american dream", there needs to be a marketing or selling of better options to people. A real campaign of sorts, billboards and commercials. Why is greater density good? What can it preserve for us? How can it promote a greater sense of civic pride and connection to others? After all, this is exactly the strategy that the market executes for the purpose of selling suburbia, and it works. It should be the responsibility of our cities to do the same. Can the city save the countryside? Maybe, only if it believes that it needs the countryside, and vice versa.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is the height of the potential restriction? DC has a height limit and its a pretty cool place to be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is the height of the potential restriction? DC has a height limit and its a pretty cool place to be.

This is true, but the DC height restrictions are more generous than DT Charleston's. You can still get great density and reasonable height in DC. Most buildings up there are 12 stories high, if I remember correctly. At any rate, if this goes through in Charleston, I'd say that you can probably expect to see some towers popping up in areas along I-26 through N. Charleston and Summerville.

I think one thing that would tremendously help some people understand the benefits of density and mixed-use environments is the establishment of a column in local newspapers dedicated to these types of issues. I think this would go a long way in at least trying to get a conversation started.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is the height of the potential restriction? DC has a height limit and its a pretty cool place to be.

I'm not sure there's a correlation between height and coolness, either way, tall or short. It strikes me as odd that there isn't much discussion about the hard facts. Where's the density debate? Why hasn't he public seen and been allowed to comment on multiple density scenarios? Charleston deserves a chance to consider several options that address its future population growth. It only seems logical to entertain the greatest amount of density which would in effect preserve vast amounts of green space beyond the city, provided the urban growth boundary is respected.

I'm all for coolness. Speaking of which, there's much discussion here in NYC regarding green roofs as a way of mitigating the heat island effect. I wonder were the developer and the city come down on sustainable strategies for the Neck? Its great the land is being cleaned up, but what more can be done as the development gets built out?

I think one thing that would tremendously help some people understand the benefits of density and mixed-use environments is the establishment of a column in local newspapers dedicated to these types of issues. I think this would go a long way in at least trying to get a conversation started.

That is a good idea Krazeeboi.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This ridiculous 55-foot restriction is a complete impediment to density, and the city might as well start annexing up to St. George to get any significant population increases. Mt. Vernon Place is cool, but Chas needs a significant skyline to create an entry or gateway into the city and give it another image. The images of historic Chas are excellent, but New Orleans has a historic as well as a modern image. The Neck is the only part of the city left to create this type of development and image, and it appears that the leaders have decided to proceed with the predictable, uninspiring approach.

At 55 feet, everything would have to be 4 stories at the most. How can you create a superb urban environment with that kind of zoning? The city and development leaders evidently don't know how to dream and make it happen. If you're going to have a vision and a dream, dream BIG.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...The city and development leaders evidently don't know how to dream and make it happen. If you're going to have a vision and a dream, dream BIG.

Well said, and in the words of Daniel Burnham, "Make no small plans."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I'm not sure there's a correlation between height and coolness, either way, tall or short. It strikes me as odd that there isn't much discussion about the hard facts. Where's the density debate? Why hasn't he public seen and been allowed to comment on multiple density scenarios? Charleston deserves a chance to consider several options that address its future population growth. It only seems logical to entertain the greatest amount of density which would in effect preserve vast amounts of green space beyond the city, provided the urban growth boundary is respected.

There's not a correlation of anything to an opinion, but your point about density is the one that I meant to convey through my statement. You can have lower buildings and still have density. Look at downtown Charleston. The height restriction in DC is relative to the width of the road it is facing, so you mave have some 12 storey buildings around, but most are less than that. I do agree that 55 ft is rather short.

If Charleston does this it will dramatically alter its future. North Charleston may decide to allow skyscrapers, and it would then be the place to build the skyline....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Charleston City Council was all set to adopt a uniform height restriction that would have covered the entire city, but then developers with an interest in the Neck area cried foul and demanded more public discussion before the rule is adopted. The article is [url="http://www.charleston.net/stories/?newsID=98280

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Charleston City Council was all set to adopt a uniform height restriction that would have covered the entire city, but then developers with an interest in the Neck area cried foul and demanded more public discussion before the rule is adopted. The article is [url="http://www.charleston.net/stories/?newsID=98280

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think we're thinking realistically if we think any infill development will automatically be a "sprawl buster." People like sprawling suburbs and that's not going to change, although we're presenting more and better options.

I just started reading This Land: The Battle over Sprawl and the Future of America by Anthony Flint which discusses why suburban sprawl seems to reign supreme despite new investment in urban cores. I hope to be able to provide some insight as I read the book. I did look in the index though, and the I'On development in Mt. Pleasant was mentioned. It was basically criticized as a more sterile, cleaned-up version of downtown Charleston, yet lacks the character of a true city that comes from the diversity among its people.

I'd like to check that book out. All I need to know about I'On comes from a friend of mine who runs a business there. From what she tells me about the residents she encounters, it sounds like the neighborhood just grabbed a bunch of people from Park Avenue, dressed them in pastels, and set them down in the middle of the Mt. Pleasant.

To bring this back around to the Neck area, I really like trm2105 and krazeeboi's idea of letting the public see a variety of scenarios for the redevelopment of the Neck, and hopefully, coming to a consensus as to which is best. I personally would love to comment on Bobby Ginn's plans for his 200+ acres of the neck. Recently, he labeled his development, the Promenade, as a city within a city. It sounds a lot like I'On, except worse. Come on! A resort-style golf course and rental cottages in the middle of the Peninsula?!? Basically, if you read between the lines, it sounds like a vacation spot for wealthy people. I believe this area should be developed in a way that makes it a high-density district that attracts people of all backgrounds. It should be a gathering place for everyone. I'm not trying to sound overly idealistic. There is a place for resorts and golf courses, but not in the middle of an urban city! There are people out there who think of Charleston as only a resort town, but that is not how people who live here think of their city.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All good ideas and observations here. I have to make it a priority to get down to Charleston soon and wander around a bit.

I agree that if a citywide height restriction is imposed, you see clumps of towers in the N. Charleston and Summerville areas, specifically. And how many of you want to bet they'll have nice, easy access to I-26?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Will the proposal affect the Medical District? This area has been offer a waiver for the height restrictions. I don't think the height restrictions would cover the entire city. Reading the article, I beleive the city wants to protect residential areas and areas along the Cooper River.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

oh jesus, mary and joseph when i read that article i wanted to vomit. i really hope this does not pass. i will be really pissed. i mean come on where will it all end. height restrictions in the neck area as well as the burbs? that's ridculious. this city seems to become more facist every day. hey i just had a thought. y don't we get a caravan and go down to chas and start rioting!!!! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Will the proposal affect the Medical District? This area has been offer a waiver for the height restrictions. I don't think the height restrictions would cover the entire city. Reading the article, I beleive the city wants to protect residential areas and areas along the Cooper River.

It is my understanding that MUSC has a couple of buildings slightly over the height limit (as in 1-2 stories). Based on my experience as a student, I would guess that those buildings are the Gazes Cardiac Research Institute and the Hollings Cancer Center. As I stated, they are only slightly taller than the rest of the taller buildings on campus. It is not significant at all.

The campus is inside the area covered by the height restriction. The story is that, a few years ago, MUSC wanted to construct a couple of buildings that were taller than the limit. Charleston said no, and MUSC threatened to move the campus to North Charleston. I doubt they would've actually moved, especially since MUSC is a significantly large medical center. So Charleston, knowing how important MUSC is to their city and region, granted MUSC an exception to build those buildings. It is amazing what power will do, isn't it?

Personally, I think the city-wide height restriction is silly. It is one thing to build a highrise along King Street in the middle of the historic Charleston area, but it is another thing entirely to build one in another part of the city that needs help. I agree with what many of you have already stated: if Charleston maintains such a height limit, the taller buildings will gradually end up in North Charleston. North Charleston already has the coliseum, convention center, airport, retail, etc., not to mention a lot of residents. If they get highrises and some urban-style developments also, watch out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say that if the city does want to impose height restrictions throughout the entire city, they should be more liberal than the downtown restrictions. But I am of the opinion that there is no logical reason to impose them throughout the rest of the city in any form (except for logistical reasons).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the current rule though, which isn't much better, and it explains why there are no tall bulidings anywhere in Charleston...

"Under the old "3x" rule, a building could be three times as tall as the distance from its edge to the center line of the street. That means a building could be 150 feet tall if it were located 50 feet from the center line."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is my understanding that MUSC has a couple of buildings slightly over the height limit (as in 1-2 stories). Based on my experience as a student, I would guess that those buildings are the Gazes Cardiac Research Institute and the Hollings Cancer Center. As I stated, they are only slightly taller than the rest of the taller buildings on campus. It is not significant at all.

The campus is inside the area covered by the height restriction. The story is that, a few years ago, MUSC wanted to construct a couple of buildings that were taller than the limit. Charleston said no, and MUSC threatened to move the campus to North Charleston. I doubt they would've actually moved, especially since MUSC is a significantly large medical center. So Charleston, knowing how important MUSC is to their city and region, granted MUSC an exception to build those buildings. It is amazing what power will do, isn't it?

Personally, I think the city-wide height restriction is silly. It is one thing to build a highrise along King Street in the middle of the historic Charleston area, but it is another thing entirely to build one in another part of the city that needs help. I agree with what many of you have already stated: if Charleston maintains such a height limit, the taller buildings will gradually end up in North Charleston. North Charleston already has the coliseum, convention center, airport, retail, etc., not to mention a lot of residents. If they get highrises and some urban-style developments also, watch out.

the medical district has a special zoning which allows for buildings in height from 85-200 feet. It is thought that the 2nd phase of (the first phase is under construction) of the new MUSC construction will be a 200' tower.

If I am not mistaken, this covers areas that are NOT on the peninsula, as the height limits on the peninsula are already well defined.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the medical district has a special zoning which allows for buildings in height from 85-200 feet. It is thought that the 2nd phase of (the first phase is under construction) of the new MUSC construction will be a 200' tower.

If I am not mistaken, this covers areas that are NOT on the peninsula, as the height limits on the peninsula are already well defined.

That's right, and the Neck would be an area considered not on the peninsula. This would effect the Promenade and Magnolia developments, plus any other project being considered on Daniel Island and Cainhoy. Good grief, you wouldn't even be able to build some of the hotels located near CA Dreaming in West Ashley. The city better consider just dropping this. The council is way off in even mentioning this type of zoning.

All of you guys have made some excellent points here, BTW.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We are also assuming that 55 feet is the limit they want to work with. They may put it at 75 or 100 for all we know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay here is a quote from what was recommended

In most cases, 55 feet would become the maximum height in commercial zones in West Ashley, on the Charleston peninsula above Mount Pleasant Street and on Johns Island, James Island, and the Cainhoy peninsula. Nonresidential buildings could be up to 80 feet tall in industrially zoned areas.

...

The city would allow buildings to be up to 65 feet tall in "gathering place" zones. So far, there are two such zones, near the Bees Ferry Wal-Mart and in the upper Charleston peninsula.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought the height restrictions was only DT Charleston or even suburbs, but was the entire Charleston County? I think it was 20 years ago. The key was to keep Charleston County from being another Mrytle Beach.

There was a famous feud about 20 years ago where a developer had bought the beach land at the southern tip of Charleston County. You could see Edisto State Park form the tip of his land across the inlet which is in a different county, His name was Hiller and he was from Greenville. It had about 2 miles of beach and several hundred acres of land.

He wanted to build tall condos but the county would not let him. The county was after him, the locals were after him, people were going on his undeveloped land looking for things to use against him. Now at this time, there was nothing at this end of the county.

It became a huge fight and he was accused of chasing off people who would walk on the beach in front of the large piece of land he had. The county threatened him about chasing off people from the beach so he would drive his 3 wheeler on the dunes of his property with a shot gun attached to the stem of the front wheel to insure people would stay off his property and stay on the beach. It became part of the mystique. There were several articles on him as he was at war with Charleston county and many people were against him, many from Charleston who wanted to pitch a battle with anyone coming with change.

As they accused him of chasing off people from a public beach, he pulled out some document where the King of England had granted that property and beach to someone who owned the land back in the early 1700's and now that he owned the land, that deed of private beach was his. He then said he had no problem allowing people on the beach, but not on his property. Charleston county had their tails between their legs when he produced that document because now it was real war. The county was furious with him as this was all played out in the newspaper.

The last step was he said he was putting a "Succession from Charleston County" campaign together. Now, imagine that with the stiffs in the county office and in the city of Charleston (I use to work in the county land office and they are not exactly the party till you drop crowd).

Last I heard, I think he did succeed. I think they finally got tired of dealing with him and the property is now in Edisito county. He eventually lost the property but I believe he succeeded.

This may have been talked about before so don't mean to bring it up. I had some inside knowledge on this so I think some or most of the story is correct but please correct me if someone knows more or correct my mistake.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, its the entire Charleston City. I don't think the county would be effected by this.

I hope that they opposed him because he was crazy, and hot just because of the height of the condos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It only seems logical to entertain the greatest amount of density which would in effect preserve vast amounts of green space beyond the city, provided the urban growth boundary is respected.

So much for respecting that urban growth boundary...

Save the Urban Growth Boundary!

Interestingly, the Coastal Conservation League supports a growth boundary, but hasn't pushed for greater density within that boundary in terms of the Neck's development.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.