Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Shipwatch Square: its history and current redevelopment updates

Update #6 August 28, 2102
All of the building on the site have been cleared and grass has begun to grow.

Update #5 April 9, 2012
A Post and Courier article by Robert Behre from a recent interview with North Charleston Mayor R. Keith Summey.


Update #4 March 2, 2012
Demolition continues at Shipwatch Square with only a few buildings remaining.
Update #3 January 12, 2012
Building 2, which was parallel to Meeting Street Road (former home to Woolworth's and Belks) has been demolished, as has the bank at the intersection of McMillan and Rivers Avenue.

Update #2 November 21, 2011
Demolition continues.
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Update #1 November 8, 2011
The demolition of the old Shipwatch Square is ongoing.  The building that formerly housed a Chinese restaurant and the Howard Johnson restaurant has been demolished, as well as the shopping center building parallel to McMillan Avenue.  The contractors are currently demolishing the bank building (former home to Wachovia, and before that South Carolina National Bank) at the corner of McMillan and Rivers Avenues.

The removal of asbestos containing materials from the remaining two shopping center buildings is proceeding.  Afterwards, the final two buildings will be demolished.

Please note that Shipwatch’s last remaining tenant, “Citi Trends,” has relocated to the shopping center on Rivers Avenue at Aviation Avenue.  Auto Sound Specialist (747-0047) remains in business at its current location, as does “Lord of the Harvest” in the former movie theater at the corner of McMillan Avenue and Meeting Street Road.
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November 7, 2011

History of Shipwatch Square

In 1895, long before Pinehaven Shopping Center, the City of Charleston established 600-acre Chicora Park north of the its boundaries along the Inland Trail.  The Trail itself was a vital route of commerce, carrying goods between the sea coast and the Midlands of South Carolina.  Over the next decade, the United States Navy took possession of 1,575 acres along the west bank of the Cooper River, consuming the Park through its expansion.  Eventually, a 20-acre site was developed just outside of the Naval Base gates for the Pinehaven Sanatorium, a health care facility for tuberculosis patients.

In 1958, the Pinehaven Shopping Center was built on the site of the former sanatorium and consisted of 200,000 square feet of retail business. Pinehaven’s landmark structure was a central circle tower that bore the its name and held all of the lighting for the parking lot hidden within the top circle of the tower.
The shopping center opened for business September 17, 1959. Two grocery stores, a national retail clothier, one national five and dime store, one large local retailer, one bank and numerous small businesses made up the complex.  In future years a cinema was added.  The shopping center was very successful for decades and the occupancy of tenants remained high.  As the area continued to develop from the presence of the Naval Base, the center was renamed Shipwatch Square.

Although the shopping center began to decline with the establishment of area indoor shopping malls, a major blow came when the US Navy announced the closing of the Naval Base and Shipyard in North Charleston, displacing 12,000 civilian and 8,000 military employees. This was a large economic setback to the immediate area as many of the workers would use the retail outside of the base to shop and dine. Winn Dixie was the last major tenant, vacating the center in 2005 as part of the chain’s closure of all its grocery stores in South Carolina. The rest of the center maintained a few lower tier establishments, but was generally unoccupied.

In 2002, the City created a new vision for the 3,000 acres south of I-526 and east of I-26 from Cosgrove Avenue to the Cooper River known as the Noisette Community Master Plan. Real estate ventures began to rise as investors bought into the City’s new vision. Shipwatch Square was purchased by new stakeholders who had an ambitious development plan. However, the US economy began to slip in 2008 and the new development did not progress.  The City was patient in encouraging private enterprises, but in the end, redevelopment was not initiated.

Redevelopment begins

The City of North Charleston purchased 16.4 acres of the center in 2010, leaving the corner property for the former developer to negotiate a sale with a drug store.  After the developer’s negotiations fell through, the City acquired the final parcel on the corner of McMillan and Rivers Avenues in 2011.

North Charleston has created a number of conceptual plans for the property and is working with the surrounding businesses and an adjacent church to find the appropriate mix of tenants and financing to make the redevelopment successful. The City intends to create a complete master plan and secure development partners for its implementation.

The City approved a lease with Walgreens and a local developer to become the first tenant in the new center. The drug store chain will lease the property for 3 years and thereafter have the option to purchase the parcel located at the corner of McMillan and Rivers Avenues.  The City is also in negotiations with a bank to locate on site.

The City feels that housing should be major component of the development to attract residents into the immediate area. The North Charleston Housing Authority is investigating building its new offices at Shipwatch Square. In addition, the city has received interest in relocating to the site from Charleston County Library, Clemson University Extension Service, Fetter Health Care Clinics, Charleston County Health Services, the Pinehaven Post Office, and the Small Business Administration.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the area around Shipwatch Square has been classified as a food desert.  The Mayor and City Council are committed to attracting a full-service grocery as the anchor tenant of the location’s redevelopment.  This effort may also include community or urban gardens, farmers markets and educational activities for the community. The City is currently in discussion with several grocery store chains.

The City of North Charleston remains very optimistic about the success of the redevelopment.  This is a wonderful opportunity to create a new community in the south end of the city and provide the residents a deserving quality place to work, live, play, and shop.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Nighttime Lane Closure for Rivers Avenue Sidewalk Improvement Project, Aug. 29 - Sept. 30


Charleston County Government announces the following traffic alert regarding nighttime lane closures for the Rivers Avenue at Northwoods Sidewalk Improvement Project in North Charleston:
  • Drivers should expect lane closures on Rivers Avenue (U.S. Highway 52) between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. each night from Wednesday, Aug. 29 through Sunday, Sept. 30, except on Friday and Saturday nights when there will be no closures. 
  • The lane closures will occur in either direction of Rivers Avenue between Ashley Phosphate Road and Northbrook Boulevard. 
  • Only one portion of the road will be closed at a time. 
  • Workers with flags will direct traffic through the closures. 
  • The closures are necessary due to the construction of new sidewalks, crosswalks and pedestrian signal improvements on Rivers Avenue. 
  • All road work is dependent on weather. If the weather is poor during Aug. 29 – Sept. 30 and more work is needed, it will continue on the next weather-permitting night (other than a Friday or Saturday). 
The project is funded by the Charleston County Transportation Sales Tax Program’s 2011 Bike and Pedestrian Allocation Projects.

Drivers traveling through the project’s construction zone are asked to be aware of equipment and crews working in the area at all times. The public is also asked to notice traffic control signs, message board information, and to note that all road work is dependent on the weather.

The goal of the project, which is expected to be completed November 18, 2012, includes sidewalk, crosswalks and pedestrian signalization improvements along the west and east ends of Rivers Avenue from Ashley Phosphate Road to Northbrook Boulevard.

The public can get more information about all Charleston County Transportation Sales Tax road projects at the official website at www.ccroadwise.org.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August 23, 2012 City Council Meeting

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mt. Pleasant artist collective to present exhibition of oils at City Gallery



The City of North Charleston’s Cultural Arts Department is pleased to announce that works by the Mt. Pleasant based artist group, Friends with Brushes, will be on exhibit at the North Charleston City Gallery from September 1-30, 2012. The public is invited to attend a free reception at the gallery hosted by the artists on Thursday, September 6, from 5pm-7pm. 

Friends with Brushes is a group of local emerging and established artists seeking excellence interpreting their surroundings, whether it is abstraction, realism, or somewhere in-between. Members include Roberta Byron, Sandra Wrenn, Denise Avera, Kathy Clark, Janie Schloss, Martina Yearwood, and Phyllis Leventis. The group will exhibit mostly Lowcountry landscapes and still-lifes in oil, offering viewers a unique and interesting way of seeing the southern lifestyle.

The North Charleston City Gallery is located in the common areas of the Charleston Area Convention Center with free parking and admission during regular Convention Center operating hours 9:00am-5:00pm, daily. The gallery is staffed on Friday, Saturday, and Monday only. Inquiries regarding artists or purchase information may be directed to the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at (843) 740-5854. For information on additional exhibits, programs, and events, visit the Cultural Arts section of the City’s website at www.northcharleston.org.

Police make donation to victim service agencies


North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey along with Police Chief Jon Zumalt presented monetary donations to three Victim Services Agencies. Checks were presented to People Against Rape ($15,000.00); The Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center ($15,000.00); and The South Carolina Victim’s Assistance Network ($10,000.00).

Police Chief Jon Zumalt says, “We are pleased to support these very important victim service agencies that are vital to victims of crime in North Charleston.” Mayor Keith Summey calls the donations “vital” to the continuation of victim services from these agencies and goes on to say, "In these difficult financial times it is important that we do everything to maintain and provide these services to our citizens."

People Against Rape and Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center provides counseling, safe haven, personal support and other services to victim. The South Carolina Victim’s Assistance Network provides enhanced advocacy and other forms of service to victims.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

City of North Charleston Appoints New Artist-in-Residence

Local fiber artist, Kristy Bishop, to fill role for 2012-2013

The City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department is proud to announce the appointment of contemporary fiber artist Kristy Bishop as Artist-in-Residence for 2012/13. The City’s Artist-in-Residence serves as a key resource for the department’s outreach programs, especially in the area of art instruction. The selected artist shares his/her unique skills, talents, and experiences by providing services to senior groups, public schools, group homes, and various other groups within the city limits of North Charleston. Kristy will be available for visual art residencies of 12-15 hours at a minimum of two hour increments at North Charleston schools and is also available to host workshops for community groups of all ages.

Kristy Bishop, originally from Charleston, received a BA in Studio Art with a concentration in painting from the College of Charleston in 2008. In the spring of 2009 she moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, where the beauty and fragility of the Mojave desert became the primary inspiration for her paintings. It was in December of that year that Kristy began experimenting with fiber mediums, incorporating sewn and embroidered elements into her paintings. By the time she returned to Charleston in the summer of 2010, Kristy had made the transformation from painter to mixed media/fiber artist. Her most recent works are created solely from fabric, featuring hand-dyed silk that is cut, gathered, and sewn. By hand dyeing the fabric, she creates a multitude of colors that she uses as her palette for creating new work. Thousands of tiny pieces of hand-dyed silk are manipulated to create large scale abstract pieces that employ texture and color to convey and evoke a number of emotions. In March, 2012, Kristy was featured in Charleston Magazine. Her most recent works can be viewed in an exhibition titled Pinned Down, on view from August 17-28 at Stems, located at 208 Coming Street in downtown Charleston.

Art teachers and school liaisons may initiate the request for FREE services by the Artist-in-Residence by contacting the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at (843)740-5854. Community groups are also welcome to submit requests, which will be considered on a first come first served basis. All project requests should be placed at least two weeks in advance, with residences completed by the end of May, 2013.

The North Charleston City Gallery will host an exhibition of Kristy’s work throughout January, 2013. The gallery is located within the Charleston Area Convention Center at 5001 Coliseum Drive in North Charleston. School liaisons, arts teachers, and the general public are invited to meet the artist at a free gallery reception on Thursday, January 3, 2013, from 5:00-7:00pm.

More information about the Artist-in-Residence program, as well as the department’s other programs, exhibits, and events, can be found on the Cultural Arts section of the City’s website at www.northcharleston.org. For more information about Kristy, visit kristybishop.com.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Morgan Olson establishing new facility in North Charleston, $1 million investment with 119 new jobs



Morgan Olson LLC, a maker of walk-in van bodies, today announced that it will establish its new plant in North Charleston. The $1 million investment is expected to generate 119 new jobs.

“We are excited about locating our new facility in Charleston County. South Carolina offers a business-friendly environment and the skilled workforce we need for our operations. We appreciate all the support we’ve received from state and local officials,” said Dave Halladay, vice president of Operations at Morgan Olson.

Morgan Olson’s Charleston facility will strip and retrofit truck chassis built by Mercedes in North Charleston, as well as upfit cargo vans with modular interiors for Fed Ex, Ryder and other customers.

“More and more companies are learning the benefits of doing business in South Carolina and putting down roots here. We celebrate Morgan Olson’s decision to invest $1 million and create 119 new jobs here in Charleston County,” said Gov. Nikki Haley.

Morgan Olson will locate its new 100,000-square-foot plant at 7555 Palmetto Commerce Parkway in North Charleston. The facility is expected to be online by October 1 and producing vehicles by October 22.

“The automotive industry continues to be a real driver in our state’s economy and in our manufacturing sector. When companies like Morgan Olson choose to locate here, it not only creates jobs and wealth for South Carolinians, but also increases our reputation in the automotive club,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt.

Since January 2011, South Carolina has recruited more than $4.4 billion in capital investment and more than 6,800 jobs in the automotive-related sector.

“Congratulations to Morgan Olson on this exciting relocation news,” said Teddie Pryor, chairman of Charleston County Council. “Our automotive sector has led the way out of the recession among area manufacturers, and we are elated to be adding a company of the caliber of Morgan Olson to our corporate family. Their reputation for innovation and quality has preceded them here, and with the ever growing market for the Daimler Sprinter, we believe this facility will become central to their corporate strategy in the years to come. Our world-class Port and our unrivaled workforce will help create the fertile soil conditions for this success, and Morgan Olson can count on Charleston County as its pro-business partner for years to come.”

“The City of North Charleston commits to remain business friendly to support Morgan Olson and the expanding automotive sector of our regional economy,” said Keith Summey, mayor of North Charleston. “Morgan Olson is providing a welcomed capital investment and increased opportunities for high quality new jobs that will further strengthen our community.”

“We are proud to welcome Morgan Olson to our community,” said Charleston Regional Development Alliance Chairman Wayne Hall. “This expansion proves just how competitive we have become. Our three counties offer an incredible combination of assets for global manufacturers, including an established automotive cluster, a skilled workforce and the world-class training programs of readySC. By choosing to locate in the Charleston region, Morgan Olson sends a powerful message to automotive companies around the world.”

The company has completed its first hiring phase and information on additional hiring will be released at a later date.

Morgan Olson is the leading walk-in van body manufacturer in North America. Its portfolio of customers serves a multitude of industries and delivery applications, from baking and snack foods to newspaper, textile rental, vending and parcel delivery. For more information about Morgan Olson, please visit www.morganolson.com.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Teaching Artists Sought for After School Arts Enrichment Programs in North Charleston



Thanks to the dedication of Mayor Summey and City Council, the City of North Charleston continues to provide after school programs to several public elementary schools within city limits. One component of these programs is arts enrichment classes through the City’s Cultural Arts Department. The department is seeking teaching artists in all disciplines to offer these classes for the 2012/13 school year. Local artists with a willingness to share their talents and an ability to work with young students are invited to participate in this after school arts enrichment program.

Thirteen elementary schools in North Charleston are identified sites. Classes are held for one hour twice a week with instructors rotating to a new school site on a bi-monthly basis. The number of participants will vary at each site and teaching artists should anticipate working with large groups of children. A site staff person is available to offer assistance. Rate of pay for these part-time positions is $20 an hour and a limited supply budget is available depending on the needs of the arts discipline. A minimum two month commitment is requested, which results in 16 one hour classes. To insure the safety of the children, background checks are required.

Interested artists should submit a class proposal form and resume as soon as possible to be considered for this program, as rotations begin in September. Forms are available for download from the Applications and Registration Forms page at http://bit.ly/culturalarts. Application materials may be emailed to culturalarts@northcharleston.org or mailed to the attention of Nancy Rodriguez at City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Dept., PO Box 190016, North Charleston, SC, 29419-9016. For more information, contact the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at 843-740-5854.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

August 9, 2012 City Council Meeting

Monday, August 6, 2012

North Charleston selected as Regional Veterans Day Site by National Committee

Veterans Day Ceremony

The Department of Defense and the Veterans Day National Committee has once again selected North Charleston as a Regional Site for Veterans Day 2012. North Charleston is the only regional site in the State of South Carolina and has been selected for 3 consecutive years.

The City of North Charleston will host its annual Veterans Day tribute on Monday, November 12, 2012 from 10:30 am – 1:00 pm at Park Circle. We ask veterans and the public to join Mayor R. Keith Summey and City Council in this special ceremony. Last year, over 500 veterans in attendance were honored.

Prior to the ceremony, from 9:30 am – 10:30 am, a story swap will be held in the Felix Davis Community Center. Veterans will have an open opportunity to share memories and stories about their service with fellow veterans. The story swap is open to the public.

Additional details about North Charleston’s Veterans Day event will be released over the coming months.

From past Veterans Day events
Photos: Veterans Day 2011
Photos: Veterans Day 2010
Video: Medal of Honor recipient Major General Livingston on Veterans Day
Video: 10 year old Tre’ Williams on what it means to be a veteran
Video: Major Joe Lysaght on the history of the Pledge of Allegiance

It's Cool to be in School, 5th annual school supply giveaway


The City of North Charleston, in partnership with area churches and businesses, will hold its 5th annual school supply giveaway on Saturday, August 11, 2012, 10:00 am to 12:00 noon at the Charleston Area Convention Center.


Bring your school-aged children to receive supplies for the school year.  Supplies will be given out on a first-come-first-serve basis.

It's Cool to be in School program is organized by North Charleston Police Department's Community and Police Panel.
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