Take a look at this area and tell me what you see.
Vast swaths of concrete and cars, a few buildings, a few ball fields. A pretty nice park. It’s an area that is mostly disconnected from other neighborhoods in Charleston – on the south, north and the east. It’s where we locals go to pay our parking tickets, or watch a baseball game, or see the Dock Dog Competition in Brittlebank Park – but not much else.
Now that’s all going to change.
I heard a few rumors about this thing called the “Horizon Project” from a well-connected friend of mine, so I decided to do some further investigation by going straight to the source – Michael Maher at the Charleston Civic Design Center. Here’s what I learned that I am able to now share with you.
The Horizon Area Redevelopment Project, a collaboration of MUSC, SCRA and the City of Charleston, has been in the works for many years. I even remember it being mentioned back when I worked at SC Launch (part of SCRA) – but it seemed only an idea, a dream. But now timing and circumstances are ripe, so the project is entering the phase of creation. What is it you ask? I’ll show you.
This rendering from the City (with my labels added) shows Horizon as the ultimate urban infill project – a diverse mixed-use community incorporating green space and laid out on a grid system – long touted by urban planners as the ideal structure for interactivity and connectivity. It is intended to be a new economic development driver for Charleston, created with a slant toward MUSC research and development, but as a place for everyone.
Horizon Street will be extended to reach the Crosstown, and lined with shops, restaurants and services, possibly including a new grocery store. It will become the central ‘spine’ of this new community. Here’s a photo of what it looks like now. Just parking lots and chain link fences.
Over 4,000,000 square feet of space will be built including commercial, retail, and residential. There will be 800-1,000 residential units of all prices and sizes, 15% of which will be workforce housing.
Because this area is in a different height district than much of Downtown, dense development will be encouraged, both in office and residential spaces. We’ll see heights up to 125 feet (shorter than the Marriott) though along Hagood St, close to the existing residential neighborhoods, building heights will be only 55 ft.
Every effort will be made to provide this area with a better link to the MUSC campus and neighborhoods south of the Crosstown. Right now, it’s a bit treacherous when you attempt to traverse the Crosstown on foot or by bike.
Obviously, the Horizon project will have a tremendous positive impact on that area of Downtown Charleston, but also you’ll see the trickle down effect in the surrounding neighborhoods too – the growing Spring/Cannon corridor, the streets to the east such as Ashton and Allway, and even in beautiful Hampton Park Terrace.
So when will all this begin? The goal is to put out calls for RFQs (Requests for Qualifications) in the next several months, and get work started by 2013.
Folks, the transformation from concrete to community, is in sight.
If you’d like to read more about it. the official description of the Horizon Area Redevelopment Project is on the City of Charleston website. You can go there for a presentation and more graphics too.
And the Charleston Regional Business Journal did an excellent piece on it in 2008, called City to redevelop Westside as biotech research hub.