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vicupstate

Downtown preservation, height restrictions

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^ Common sense is prevailing with the Hilton hotel development at the old library site, despite the extremist language of preservationists. The Historical Chas Foundation is really living up to its nickname: the Hysterical Chas Foundation! ^_^ Needless to say, I can't wait for this hotel to be built because it will truly be one the gems of upper King Street.

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^ Vic, while Chas may be at a good place today, imagine what better place it might have been if preservationists were a little less strict, particularly in areas north of Calhoun and around the medical district.

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^ Vic, while Chas may be at a good place today, imagine what better place it might have been if preservationists were a little less strict, particularly in areas north of Calhoun and around the medical district.

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About the height restrictions, I can kinda see CN's point, Vic. If the modern lowrise and midrise buildings downtown are any indicator, I would have no doubt that modern structures of significant height (say 120-150ft max) would be done right in Charleston. DC has managed to erect many quality structures with their upper height limit of 12 floors. The citywide height restrictions will ultimately be to Charleston's detriment IMO.

And if you ask me, some areas north of Calhoun already look like "Anyplace, USA"--just without tall structures. I see no reason why properly-done midrises couldn't help with the revitalization of those areas.

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About the height restrictions, I can kinda see CN's point, Vic. If the modern lowrise and midrise buildings downtown are any indicator, I would have no doubt that modern structures of significant height (say 120-150ft max) would be done right in Charleston. DC has managed to erect many quality structures with their upper height limit of 12 floors. The citywide height restrictions will ultimately be to Charleston's detriment IMO.

And if you ask me, some areas north of Calhoun already look like "Anyplace, USA"--just without tall structures. I see no reason why properly-done midrises couldn't help with the revitalization of those areas.

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The restrictions around the Medical University area HAVE been relaxed. A necessary evil to maintian MUSC's peninsular presence. Most of the Hospitals modern buildings look bland, boring and look like they belong in ANY city. There appearance from the harbor have diminished the views from there. As I said, a necessary evil.

The area North of Calhoun would look like any other homogenized city without those restrictions.

BTW, how much of the CBS Early show / Today show/ CNN coverage was devoted to Charleston's "modern' buildings? I didn't see any of it, but my guess would be : none.

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The term "Holy City" came from the fact that the steeples dominated the city as it was approached from the harbor. Buildings of the height you are talking about would dwarf and overwhelm the historic structures, and ruin the historic, 'stepping back in time' ambience...Creating a concrete and steel 'canyon' of modern structures, in place of the historic ones, (which is what you are talking about because the land isn't vacant), would ruin that. Would DC lose something if buildings taller than the Capitol were built such that the Capitol was no longer visible from all approaches to the city? It's the same thing.

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Here's an article I found from last month that talks about how the upper King revitalization is inching towards Spring Street, where the Read building is. I think that might be where the King revitalization might terminate, at least for now.

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The Preservationists have reason to be concerned anytime something is proposed that will exceed the height limit. They are doing their job, and a job which has resulted in Charleston's place as an internationally-recognized city. The Height limit exists for a VERY good reason, and as a RULE, should be adhered to.

In this particular INSTANCE, the exception to the rule is warranted, IMO.

The parcel borders the large open space of Marion Square. Also, the Francis Marion Hotel is in close proximity and is of similiar height and mass. Marion Square represents a congregating area, that is enhanced by the 'borders' that mid-rises can provide. The Hotel will no doubt provide a significant economic boost, and I forsee a dramatic and swift change in the Upper King corridor in the near future. Included in that would be numerous historic structures that need renovation.

For all of those reasons, I support making an exception to the rule for this project. However, exceptions such as this should be rare, limited to only certain cases where conditions warrant an exception, and be THROUGHLY vetted before being approved.

The Preservationists SHOULD contest this project, if for no other reason than not doing so might send a signal that the height limit isn't important or has been 'relaxed'. That would be a bad signal to send. Charleston didn't get to the place it is today, by letting the free market determine what gets built. Care and persaverance are required to keep Charleston as such a place. God bless those that make that mission there's life's work.

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The number of feet isn't what is relavent. It's the relative SCALE.

DC's restrictions are in place to respect the scale and promenience of the capitol. Thus the limit of 12 floors. Charleston's restrictions are in place to respect the scale and promenience of the steeples (St. Phillips, St. Michael's,etc.) and other historic structures. The term "Holy City" came from the fact that the steeples dominated the city as it was approached from the harbor. Buildings of the height you are talking about would dwarf and overwhelm the historic structures, and ruin the historic, 'stepping back in time' ambience.

Charleston's appeal is not just that it has historic buildings, but that there is CONTINUITY AND EXPANSIVENESS to the historic environment, such that it creates 'another world' from the typical city.

Columbia for instance has quite a few historic buildings, but they are too few and too far apart to create that same environment. You can spend days in Charleston and never leave the 'history', you can't do that in other cities.

Creating a concrete and steel 'canyon' of modern structures, in place of the historic ones, (which is what you are talking about because the land isn't vacant), would ruin that. Would DC lose something if buildings taller than the Capitol were built such that the Capitol was no longer visible from all approaches to the city? It's the same thing.

I'd rather let the already occuring, and about to explode, process of rehabilitation of historic structures north of Calhoun take place. That will 'extend' that 'other world' that is historic Charleston.

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Vic, I definitely agree with you: the height restriction has helped save and create the treasure trove we call Charleston for our generation, and generations to come.

Chas. Native and Krazee, there is nothing wrong with having a high-rise district to Charleston, but using Calhoun Street as the demarcation between historic and non-historic is not accurate. There are many, many historic sites north of Calhoun--too numerous to list here, and so the height restriction should remain until hitting at least Mt. Pleasant Street, IMO. If you want a line of demarcation on the peninsula, the Neck is the logical one. "Mid-town" north of Mt. Pleasant Street could be the city's new high-rise business district. That would be sweet.

Don't you agree?

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Chas can't be a continual museum, vic. Granted, the attraction and lure of Chas is its historic structures, which is probably the main reason for the Early and Today shows coverage, but the same can be applied to New Orleans, a city which does have a modern skyline. Many preservationists believe that the historic skyline of Chas should not change, and I agree, as long as its south of Calhoun Street. Chas should have a modern, business/financial/medical/research section of DT that allows taller buildings to be built. The city cannot be a virtual historical world, which is what you are proposing.

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The suggestion to relax height limits in the more outlying areas like Anacostia (which is finally starting to see some serious investment) but not in the central areas of the District has been made as well. Here's an article from May that talks about this.

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Vic, I definitely agree with you: the height restriction has helped save and create the treasure trove we call Charleston for our generation, and generations to come.

Chas. Native and Krazee, there is nothing wrong with having a high-rise district to Charleston, but using Calhoun Street as the demarcation between historic and non-historic is not accurate...

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Actually, it is pretty much accurate in terms of significant historic structures. Granted, I have made a huge generalization with the street, since there are places in between Spring and Calhoun worth saving. But this area's number of significant historical structures begins to become sparse, and I don't think saving every dilapidated single house is smart or necessary. Spring St/Crosstown could be a demarcation that I'd compromise for, with the exception of the MUSC/Hospital complex.

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Dig, I'm sorry, but we're going to have to disagree. Eliminating any highrises anywhere in between Crosstown and Mt. Pleasant St is foolish, IMO, and it will only continue to drive real estate prices up and prevent many middle class people from living and working downtown. Affordable housing is only going to help lower incomes, and developers are not going to build large amounts of projects like that. I think highrises could be permissible on the east side of I-26, in run-down, abandoned neighborhoods. I'll give you that the area west of I-26 should try to be preserved as much as possible, but not the east side, especially with the new bridge beginning there.

To disallow highrises around MUSC and the Lockwood Dr area does not show good urban foresight, IMO. I think you could at least compromise on that area to gain higher profile buildings.

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Dig, I'm sorry, but we're going to have to disagree. Eliminating any highrises anywhere in between Crosstown and Mt. Pleasant St is foolish, IMO, and it will only continue to drive real estate prices up and prevent many middle class people from living and working downtown. Affordable housing is only going to help lower incomes, and developers are not going to build large amounts of projects like that. I think highrises could be permissible on the east side of I-26, in run-down, abandoned neighborhoods. I'll give you that the area west of I-26 should try to be preserved as much as possible, but not the east side, especially with the new bridge beginning there.

To disallow highrises around MUSC and the Lockwood Dr area does not show good urban foresight, IMO. I think you could at least compromise on that area to gain higher profile buildings.

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^I kinda like that suggestion, with height restrictions becoming more relaxed the further you get from the downtown historic district. It makes sense and would create something of a layered effect, if that were to ever happen.

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^I kinda like that suggestion, with height restrictions becoming more relaxed the further you get from the downtown historic district. It makes sense and would create something of a layered effect, if that were to ever happen.

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Actually, it is pretty much accurate in terms of significant historic structures. Granted, I have made a huge generalization with the street, since there are places in between Spring and Calhoun worth saving. But this area's number of significant historical structures begins to become sparse, and I don't think saving every dilapidated single house is smart or necessary. Spring St/Crosstown could be a demarcation that I'd compromise for, with the exception of the MUSC/Hospital complex.

Vic, the argument isn't tired, it's a fact and truth that cannot be argued with. Since when has any city besides Jerusalem been one where everything had to stay the same? Why can't anyone accept the fact that MUSC and the other hospitals supply the peninsula with a basic footprint for potential highrises around the western section? People don't ride any horse carriages, take ghost walks, or take tours of houses around the area, nor should the city attempt to do so. The Citadel does provide tourists with an alternative, but should the whole downtown stay isolated where no major growth or development can occur and encourage the increase of commerce? Good grief, there needs to be room...look at the revitalization already taking place in the area around MUSC. There is much more that is planned.

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Vic, of course the city of N. Chuck would plan their height limit around the airport. But that still leaves vast amounts of the city that could go higher.

San Diego's airport is VERY close to their CBD (actually too close--it's a frighteningly jarring experience on the ground, especially when trying to enjoy Balboa Park.) Tall buildings are a mile or 2 from the runway there with no "mishaps" so far, thankfully. It is a beautiful and thrilling landing from on board, I must admit . . has anyone experienced San Diego's airport?

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The tricky part with history and historic buildings is that one building alone doesnt mean very much. But 10 or 20 groupsed together can define a place and give the correct historical context. We should be careful when destroying the past, but we shouldn't rule it out as an option either. We don't want to forget where we've been, but we should keep things moving toward the future. So, people may not come to Charleston with the same expectations as Williamsburg, but they come for similar reasons.

CharlestonNative- can you elaborate on what the plans are for the MUSC area?

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Vic, of course the city of N. Chuck would plan their height limit around the airport. But that still leaves vast amounts of the city that could go higher.

San Diego's airport is VERY close to their CBD (actually too close--it's a frighteningly jarring experience on the ground, especially when trying to enjoy Balboa Park.) Tall buildings are a mile or 2 from the runway there with no "mishaps" so far, thankfully. It is a beautiful and thrilling landing from on board, I must admit . . has anyone experienced San Diego's airport?

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The 'Museum' comment is totally bogus. These 'musuem' comments that the anti-preservationists make simply don't wash with the facts. THAT is what can't be argued with. The 'musuem' comment infers that people come and 'observe' historic recreations like Colonial Willamsburg. Last time I looked, businesses where open and prospering, residents were living there, new residences were being built, college students were enjoying every aspect of college life from studying to partying, tourists and locals alike were dining and finding entertainment. How is that a museum? Commercial rents that rival Chicago's Magnificent Mile, and the extremely high price per foot residential real estate, atest to the demand for the environment that the DT area provides.

Since it has been so successful, why not EXTEND the success to a broader area? That is exactly what is happening. It won't touch every corner overnight, but it will eventually. Give it time, and the differences you see between North of Calhoun and South of Calhoun will disappear. It will ALL be prosperous, attractive AND historic.

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