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Charleston native

Concerned about Charleston's northern neighbor

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Okay, I'm new here, but I finally have found a forum where I can put this in and get some responses out of it. I recently wrote the following letter to the city of Charleston's ombudsman and mayor. I sent it to them several times, but I NEVER received a response.

Please tell me what you think of the ideas in this letter and if you agree or disagree. I'll warn you, THIS IS A LENGTHY READ.

Dear Mr. Sheehan:

As a native of Charleston, I am very concerned about the situation that the city is either oblivious to or is not even concerned with. The situation which I am referring to is the growth of the city of North Charleston. Everyday I read in the local paper about the "boom" of North Charleston, the North Charleston coliseum, the Centre Point development bringing all sorts of retail to North Charleston, and the new airplane plant coming to North Charleston. I am beginning to wonder if I'll be saying that I'm from the metropolitan area of North Charleston and that I lived in the historic suburb of Charleston.

I have spent the majority of my life growing up west of the Ashley, and I always understood my hometown to be the central, major city in the area. I never considered North Charleston as a separate identity from Charleston; it was just the Northside or North Area. Yet, I'm noticing that Mayor Summey and his city officials are really trying to put his city into the spotlight. It's almost as if they are trying to become the premier, central city, yet, it was founded and was understood to be a suburb. Have you or other Charleston officials noticed this? I have several examples for you.

The South Carolina World Trade Center will be located in North Charleston. I find this fact to be unbelievable! How did Charleston lose its position to keep the center

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Whoa, that's pretty heavy. I will comment in more detail later, but I had one big question. Is the Hunley Museum definitely being located in North Chas? The last I heard, which was some time ago, the committee had not made a decision. North Chas is the weakest choice IMO. With Glenn McConnell in charge, it wouldn't surprise me though. N Chas must have put up a lot of money, if they did get it.

As for being the largest city, Charleston will have that title soon, not North Chas. North Chas is pretty much hemmed in by Summerville and Charleston. It will have to rely on densifying rather than annexation to add significant population.

There is a huge amount of newly annexed, undeveloped land that will feed Charleston's population for decades to come. Plus the city still has annexable land in W Ashley, James and John's Islands. Not to mention Wadmalaw Island might be next.

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I think they will eventually try to become the county seat; Summerville has already tried to become the county seat of Dorchester County

I would like to know more about this. When did it happen? What was their logic (I can assume alot, but I'd like to know for sure). Any other info woudl be nice.

I thought that was an interesting letter. I had always assumed that the Hunley was in N. Charleston. That's what it says on the interstate sign. But maybe that is just the research facility?

Where is the Four corners of law type thing in N Charleston?

N Charleston has some room to expand west into Charleston County, and it already has some in Dorchester County. I suppose it could continue to expand there. I do agree with vic though, most of its growth will be in density.

How much of Charleston's growth is actually west of the Ashley River? It seems to me to be growing in Mt Pleasant and up I-26.

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Whoa, that's pretty heavy.  I will comment in more detail later, but I had one big question.  Is the Hunley Museum definitely being located in North Chas?  The last I heard, which was some time ago, the committee had not made a decision.  North Chas is the weakest choice IMO.  With Glenn McConnell in charge, it wouldn't surprise me though. N Chas must have put up a lot of money, if they did get it.

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I will check on that. As far as what I've already known, and looking at how the Post and Courier reports on the future project as an already decided factor, I'm pretty sure that the museum is going to the North Area. The museum is supposed to be built along the Cooper River in conjunction with redevelopment of the old Navy base. They're making the museum the centerpiece of the Noisette project.

It's a great idea, but I think it is the most illogical decision. That city didn't even exist when the Hunley made history. The problem is, Charleston wasn't the highest bidder in the cities' competition to get the sub. This may be a little politically incorrect, but they were saving some money to build an African-American museum...I just think they should have concentrated on getting the Hunley first, THEN proceed with the other project.

But let me confirm the Hunley's future location.

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I would like to know more about this. When did it happen? What was their logic (I can assume alot, but I'd like to know for sure). Any other info woudl be nice.

I thought that was an interesting letter. I had always assumed that the Hunley was in N. Charleston. That's what it says on the interstate sign. But maybe that is just the research facility?

Where is the Four corners of law type thing in N Charleston?

N Charleston has some room to expand west into Charleston County, and it already has some in Dorchester County. I suppose it could continue to expand there. I do agree with vic though, most of its growth will be in density.

How much of Charleston's growth is actually west of the Ashley River? It seems to me to be growing in Mt Pleasant and up I-26.

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The sign on the interstate IS for just the research laboratory.

The Four Corners of Law is the nickname for the downtown Charleston intersection of Broad and Meeting Streets. The reason for its name is that city, county, federal, and a church are all located on each corner of the intersection!

As far as N. Chas., there is still some territory to grow in Dorchester. However, I really think if people looked deeper into this, there is something politically going on with the N. Chas. mayor. I have no problem with growth, but I just think it is ridiculous to have 2 bureaucracies, similar in size, in the metro area. It just makes sense to have the North Area and Charleston one complete city.

When I say Charleston's growth west of the Ashley, I'm referring to the actual city's growth. As far as metro area, Mt. Pleasant is definitely a boomtown. Summerville and Goose Creek are the areas along I-26 that are growing, too.

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I would like to know more about this. When did it happen? What was their logic (I can assume alot, but I'd like to know for sure). Any other info woudl be nice.

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I didn't answer the Summerville question! Sorry! :blush: I believe it was approximately 15-20 years ago, and Summerville was starting to become a boomtown. The problem was that if there was any development outside the town limits, people would have to go to St. George (county seat) to take care of paperwork. It got to a point where there were talks to move the county seat.

A possibility of moving the Charleston County seat to N. Chas. has been "whispered" among some county leaders. They know that Charleston would just blow up if they lost the seat. N. Chas. already has some county offices, a county jail, and some county satellite police offices.

I say let's just make N. Charleston part of the county seat by merging both cities! That way, each city gets what it wants without much compromise and controversy.

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I wonder if it requires legislative action to relocate a county seat. I think it would. Charleston wouldn't loose it county seat position. Its historical importance gives it alot of weight, and like someone else said- the City of Charleston has much more room to grow.

I understood what you meant about the City growing in West Ashley. What about the metro growth over there? How does it compare to say, Mt Pleseant or Summerville?

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I wonder if it requires legislative action to relocate a county seat. I think it would. Charleston wouldn't loose it county seat position. Its historical importance gives it alot of weight, and like someone else said- the City of Charleston has much more room to grow.

I understood what you meant about the City growing in West Ashley. What about the metro growth over there? How does it compare to say, Mt Pleseant or Summerville?

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Summerville and Mt. Pleasant growth would probably be considered faster than West Ashley. The reason for this is that the city of Charleston (for some strange reason) requires a little more bureaucratic red tape to get moving with development. Two things will change that and place the "booming effect" back to West Ashley. The completion of the SC 61 Expressway which will connect S'ville to W. Ashley and the Glenn McConnell/Bees Ferry Intersection on that expressway which is slated to be a huge traffic circle incorporated with a WalMart Supercenter. I can't give you the Post and Courier article that I read that in, but I can give you the city of Charleston's link to the plan:

http://www.ci.charleston.sc.us/dept/conten...nid=194&cid=832

I know that I may be a little paranoid about the county seat being moved, but I just can't stand seeing the North Area as a separate entity from Charleston. If you look at how the city is developed, it really is an extension of downtown.

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I'd be interested to know how N Charleston got started. You can post about that here: http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=8828 if you'd like :)

That West Asley Circle looks like a duplicate of the circle in N Charleston...

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I could check on that, but since I don't even believe N Charleston should exist, it will be hard for me! :D The West Ashley circle is going to be different than the one in the North area. Park Circle, that you referred to, is a residential circle with no businesses or shopping mixed in. This circle West Ashley is going to be part of a major intersection and highway. They're basically trying to avoid a typically traffic-choked intersection with a stoplight, because its going to be a great new place to shop and dine.

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It's a great idea, but I think it is the most illogical decision. That city didn't even exist when the Hunley made history. The problem is, Charleston wasn't the highest bidder in the cities' competition to get the sub. This may be a little politically incorrect, but they were saving some money to build an African-American museum...I just think they should have concentrated on getting the Hunley first, THEN proceed with the other project.

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I disagree. The Hunley was a very important part of Charleston's history, but the beautiful dense city we see today and its former economy was built off the back of slavery. Because of this, African-Americans have played a much larger and more important role in the development of the city, so I'd save money for state-of-the-art A.A museum, as well. Then again a better idea would be to make something incorporating them both. Anyway, I agree with the statements about N. Charleston & Charleston merging together. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I think that would be, by far the largest city in the state.

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Charleston alone is within 10,000 residents of Columbia, the current largest city in SC. If N. Chas and Chas merged, it would be over or very near 200,000 population. There is at least a 50% chance that Chas. will take the largest SC city title in 2010.

No county seat has ever been moved to my knowledge. The case for moving it is very weak. Charleston is more central, more known, is larger, and already is, the county seat, as opposed to N. Chas.

Just a few years ago, Chas. County spent millions to rehab the courthouse after unrepaired Hurricane Hugo damage could no longer be ignored. At the time, it was the most expensive historic restoration in US history. If the county seat was going to move, it would have been before that.

Summerville covets being the Dorchester county seat because it is by far the largest city in Dorchester County. Also, it is a significant drive to St. George from there. However, if that were enough to move a county seat, the York County seat would have moved to Rock Hill decades ago. I don't recall the Summerville effort ever getting a serious look by anyone with authority.

I echo Lakelander's comments about the A-A musuem. The effort to build that museum is international in scope, and includes President Clinton and other national dignataries. From my last recollection, the Hunley Musuem, if sited in Chas., was going to be in close proximity to the A-A history museum.

Nevertheless, the last that I heard about the Hunley Museum was that state funding was put on hold. And unless I missed it, which is possible, no final decision had been made on the location. N. Chas did offer more money for it than Chas and Mt. Pleasant, but they had to, to be taken seriously.

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County seats have been changed only with the addition or subtraction of counties, and that was mostly back when counties were districts for court purposes more so than a local government boundary.

There was an article about the courthouse rennovations not long ago. I think it said they were done with it.

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County seats have been changed only with the addition or subtraction of counties, and that was mostly back when counties were districts for court purposes more so than a local government boundary.

There was an article about the courthouse rennovations not long ago. I think it said they were done with it.

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I guess I may be jumping to conclusions, but each time I come back to my hometown to visit, N. Chas. keeps putting up new road signs to emphasize that you are in N. Chas., like it has nothing to do with Charleston. The city seems to be trying to separate itself from the area. The funny thing is that more businesses that locate there or more people who build houses there consistently refer to their location as Charleston, in advertising and on their addresses.

The courthouse was indeed renovated and it was completed sometime last year. The design is quite unique...they wanted to build a large courthouse with all of the bells and whistles, but they wanted it to blend with the surrounding historic structures. If you look at aerial photos, it is a massive 4-story building, but its immensity is obscured when walking Broad or Meeting Streets.

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I disagree.  The Hunley was a very important part of Charleston's history, but the beautiful dense city we see today and its former economy was built off the back of slavery.  Because of this, African-Americans have played a much larger and more important role in the development of the city, so I'd save money for state-of-the-art A.A museum, as well.  Then again a better idea would be to make something incorporating them both.  Anyway, I agree with the statements about N. Charleston & Charleston merging together.  I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I think that would be, by far the largest city in the state.

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I think that if city leaders REALLY did their best, they could come up with an idea to incorporate both museums and put them downtown. If that happened, that area of downtown called Aquarium Wharf would become a major tourist hub. It already has the aquarium and the Fort Sumter National Park building. On the other side of the aquarium is Fountain Walk which has SC's first IMAX theater, shops, and the first restaurant with an uninhibited view of the Cooper River located downtown. On top of that, Ansonborough Field, an area where projects used to be, is going to be the site of a park and more development with housing, shops, and restaurants. Maybe Cheesecake Factory and Ruths Chris steakhouse could locate there! :wub:

I don't have any problem with the North area redeveloping the old Navy base, but I think it would be neat if both cities combined into one as the developments there and on the Neck will basically touch together when they're completed. It just makes sense!!

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Just to put a little perspective on this, 30+ years ago when downtown Charleston was a dangerous broken down place and they were literally giving away homes on the pennisula (my older cousin won one in a poker game), North Charleston had become the economic and political center of the area. Most of the middle class, most businesses, Navy personnel, would all move, shop and dine in N. Charleston.

So while Charleston itself has seen a rather spectacular revival, I don't think it ever recovered sufficiently to ward off N. Charleston. In fact Charleston's revival and subsequent gentrification may be working to its disadvantage as many of the property owners now are not local and don't pay that much attention to local events.

The shift is power and control of the area to N. Charleston is really nothing new.

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For the folks who know what is going on in Charleston, what is the real potential of Daniel Island to one day be a significant center of activity in urban Charleston once it is fully developed out? That could boost the City of Charleston's status among the metro municipalities, no?

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For the folks who know what is going on in Charleston, what is the real potential of Daniel Island to one day be a significant center of activity in urban Charleston once it is fully developed out? That could boost the City of Charleston's status among the metro municipalities, no?

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Daniel Island will very soon be the next place for major development. Theyve been looking at it for years, and the replacement of Bishop England High School to Daniel Island was just the catalyst for everything else to start. Im not sure what the extent of the development will be.........but my guess is that it will become almost a suburb type of area between North Charleston and Mount Pleasant. Because with the fast development of Mount Pleasant, it wont be long until it spills over onto Daniel Island.

The same thing with Johns Island, it'll be AMAZING to see the difference between NOW, and ten years from now. That one guy that mentioned the state of Downtown 30+ years ago was absolutely right. My house was bought in 79 for 25,000. Today its worth more than 10 times that, at around 300,000. And its steadily increasing.

My prediction is, that 10-15 years from now, Mout Pleasant will become the official "suburb" of Charleston, Downtown will lose alot of its luster because it wont have the same neighborhood atmosphere that its always had, it will instead be more of a museum, with tourists and college students. North Charleston will continue to sore and unfortunately it probably will take most of the big attractions and developments from downtown because downtown really has nowhere to grow. West Ashley will be more of a shopping and middle class section of town. More quaint while Mount Pleasant takes the luster and attraction. Places like Johns Island and Hollywood will become much more residential. Edisto will probably become more tourist oriented, and Daniel Island will become a suburb type of area between North Charleston and Mt. Pleasant.

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I was over on Daniel Island this morning and I have to say I'm suprised how much they have built up so quickly. "Downtown" Daniel Island looks to be almost complete with several lots currently under construction. I would estimate within a year to years the commercial/retail core willbe completely built out. And while it is a great looking place, I don't think it will be a destination suburb (nor is it intended to be). Daniel Island is supposed to be a "town within a town" and basically thats what it is.

As far as West Ashley, residential developpment is really taking off. With Mt Pleasant rationing permits and James Island basically built out, West Ashley is the next "close in" area. Area between Bees Ferry Rd and Hwy 17 is about to explode. Centex is starting on the first phase (900 acres) of a 4 phase development (Carolina Bays) that will almost connect from Hwy 17 to Glenn McConnell.

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I disagree.  The Hunley was a very important part of Charleston's history, but the beautiful dense city we see today and its former economy was built off the back of slavery.  Because of this, African-Americans have played a much larger and more important role in the development of the city, so I'd save money for state-of-the-art A.A museum, as well.  Then again a better idea would be to make something incorporating them both.  Anyway, I agree with the statements about N. Charleston & Charleston merging together.  I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I think that would be, by far the largest city in the state.

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Yes I was gonna say. Charleston was the capital of slavery and free labor in America. All of those exquisite houses, luxurious designs and beautiful architecture was built on the backs of the African-American Charlestonians and Savannians (I think thats the correct term). The beautiful Charleston Single House design that we all seem to love, and I was born and raised in, is a West African design that was brought from there and the West Indian slaves that came to Charleston.

On top of that, the Gullah/Geechee culture of Charleston that was formed in the midst of all of this, is the single most important cultural remnant of African-Americans everywhere, and this gets no exposure. Little to none. Its dying rapidly with each new Charleston/Sea Island development that springs up year after year. If youve been keeping up with the news, that African-American Museum has been seeing very little funding contributions, especially compared to other Charleston projects, and has really been setback because of the extreme lack of interest and funding from others. Its really sad. There was an article on this in the Post and Courier a few weeks back, but Im too lazy to go look for it right now.

Charleston is a beautiful city, and its a wonderful place. But you reap what you sow. And as long as they continue to step on and neglect these things, they will reap those respective results. Not only is the Museum long overdue, but there should be more care put into the living and present day conditions that are ruining Charleston tradition, history, and culture. Charlestonian African-Americans make up more of the city's history than any other place in America. And as long as thats overlooked, neglected, ignored, and disrespected, similar results will continue to arise.

Its like "We love what you built and did for us all for free, way back when..." Thanx!!" "But now get out of our face because we have better things to worry about."

Its wrong and unjust. Thats why you see the extreme contrast in the look of Uptown Charleston aka North of Calhoun, and Downtown, South of Calhoun. More can be done. And it will only be beneficial to Charleston as a whole. White and Black Charleston. Because we're all Native Charlestonians.

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You said it Donny. Not only is that a problem in Charleston (although it is more pronounced there), but all over the Lowcountry (the Savannah area included). I still remember the episode with Ted Turner over some land on St. Helena Island and the negative press that it got (read about it here). Of course, with such a big name as Ted Turner involved, it was bound to be big. But the subtle, everyday neglections and oversights don't get any press. And the whole thing is not right.

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I think North Charleston would be better off merging with the City Of Charleston. N Charleston has no identity, no downtown and no personality. It's just an area full of strip malls, bland shopping areas and blighted neighborhoods. I find Goose Creek to be similar with no personality or distinction. N. Charleston merging with Charleston would make sense and Charleston would then be the biggest city in the State. Btw, can anyone tell me how or why North Charleston seperated from Charleston in the first place and became it's own city?

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It never separated from Charleston, it was formed as a separate entity in the 70s I think. I bet someone else could give you some more detail on that.

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