“Gateway to Charleston” plans resurface

“Gateway to Charleston” plans resurface
August 03 00:18 2016 Print This Article

Long before the Piggly Wiggly store at the “suicide merge”, where Sam Rittenberg Boulevard and Old Towne Road meet, closed in 2013, residents in the nearby neighborhoods were concerned about the appearance of the property.   As visitors exit I-26 and drive over the North Bridge, that property creates a first impression of Charleston.

A detailed look at the plans for the West Ashley entrance

A detailed look at the plans for the West Ashley entrance

In March 2000, the City of Charleston in conjunction with the Old Charles Towne Task Force, which represents 13 neighborhoods along Old Town Road and Orange Grove Road, released a design for the “Gateway To Charleston.”  It featured distinctive landscaping and a clock tower with a “Welcome To Charleston” message.

The 2.5 acre Piggly Wiggly property was purchased by Charlotte-based Faison Enterprises for $1.9 Million in 2014.  Faison also owns the nearby Ashley Landing shopping complex.  A lease agreement for the property has already been signed with the corporation that owns the Sonoco gas stations.

Permits for new building projects must be approved by the Charleston Design Review Board (DRB), consisting of architects and engineers.  Representatives of Faison and Sonoco submitted a design proposal to the DRB at a June meeting, referring to the design as “iconic.”  The DRB unanimously rejected the proposal, noting that it was out of character for the surrounding neighborhoods.

The DRB hearing for the Faison property attracted a standing room only crowd, mostly residents from the Old Towne neighborhoods.

Ellen Hoffman, who owns several apartment complexes in the area, echoed the sentiments of the crowd by stating, “Sam Rittenberg should be a beautiful thoroughfare like Johnny Dodds Boulevard in Mt. Pleasant.  The [submitted] design looks like a Sonic [restaurant].  We’re tired of being called West Trashly!”

Faison and its tenant must submit a new design and present it the DRB. The meetings are open to the public and include a public comment period.

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