The push for “density” at Citadel Mall another attack on suburbs

The push for “density” at Citadel Mall another attack on suburbs
August 18 16:18 2019 Print This Article

The urban planners at City of Charleston have been calling for high-density development at Citadel Mall for years. They use the term “surface parking” as an epithet. Charleston City Council will be taking up a measure to increase the zoning density at Citadel Mall to Planned Unit Development (PUD). The details of the future development at the West Ashley landmark are uncertain, but it is known that the mall owner, Trademark Properties, wants to build parking decks. It is not clear whether there would be a net decrease in parking spaces or whether customers would be required to pay for parking.

Citadel Mall has been transformed since Trademark Properties took ownership in 2017. The company bought the JC Penny space, which will re-open as MUSC West Campus by the end of the year. It later bought the Sears space, which is now being used as a film studio for the HBO series The Righteous Gemstones. Many retail spaces have been replaced by services, such as gymnastics studio Flip Gym, indoor playground OutSlide In, and DIY space Reforge Charleston. MUSC cited plentiful free parking as a reason for building the ambulatory care unit to the mall.

Lowcountry Source has been a frequent critic of the New Urbanism concept encroaching West Ashley. New Urbanism is a development philosophy that attacks the traditional suburban lifestyle. It operates under the premise that suburbanites who live in single-family homes and travel in personal vehicles have an excessive “carbon footprint.” New Urbanist planners want to “retrofit” suburbs to include high-density apartment complexes and bicycle and pedestrian paths.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and several incumbent Charleston City Council members who will also be on the 2019 municipal election ballot have used the phrase “we need to get people out of their cars.” This Lowcountry Source video editorial takes issue with that way of thinking. The 900 employees and thousands of patients who will travel to MUSC West Campus are not going to be riding bicycles or taking the bus to get there. Free parking is something that makes West Ashley special. Politicians who want to take that away from us do so at their own peril. The future of our suburban way of life is on the ballot.