A redesigned design for a proposed eight-story apartment building near Charleston’s medical district is back for review a year later after previous architectural features sparked dissatisfaction.
The city is poised to recommend approval, but conservationists are already targeting the new design as nothing new.
SE Calhoun LLC, an affiliate of Augusta-based developer Southeastern, which paid $12 million for the property two years ago, told the city’s Building Review Board on Oct. It will seek initial approval for the planned structural redesign.
“The applicant has addressed comments made by the board and comments made by the staff,” said Robert Summerfield, the city’s planning director. We recommend conceptual approval.”
The Charleston Preservation Society takes a different view.
“This is the third time the team has built a nearly identical building at this location,” said Brian Turner, president and CEO of the Charleston Preservation Society. No. This proposed building will remain cavernous and undersized, and will be a massive new structure that will not contribute to the downtown pedestrian environment.Charleston deserves something better.”
The project was first considered by the city’s Building Commission 18 months ago.
In April 2021, BAR staff agreed that an eighth floor made sense for the project, but after the board rejected the concept for the first time that spring, there was some debate about changes to the proposed building. made a proposal.
According to an August 2021 staff report, the developers took many suggestions, but not all. City staff said the building’s square footprint with long facades resulted in a “blocky perception”, much of a public outcry against the planned development.
At the time, the Charleston Preservation Society also objected, calling the proposal an “apartment-wrapped parking lot.”
The board asked Southeastern to reconsider the height, scale, mass and general architectural appearance of the project.
The developer appealed the decision in September 2021, seeking pre-litigation mediation with city officials to resolve differences in the building’s appearance.
Summerfield said the developer withdrew its appeal after working with the city to review the new design.
The latest proposal adds two 20-foot recessed areas along Calhoun Street to soften the “blocky” look of the previous design. Also, the 8th floor is set a few feet back so that you can’t see it from the ground.
Developers also pushed the building back about 23 feet from Halsey Boulevard on the east side based on concerns of nearby residents. The building is 6 stories high for the units on the Halsey side and 5 stories high for the rear units overlooking Alberta Long Lake.
Porches have been added to the ground on the east and west sides. Along the west side of the building, a linear park extends from Calhoun Street to the lake, and the developer will include a landscaped improvement to the waterfront promenade. The park site will eventually be ceded to the city.
The developer is also proposing a stormwater easement extending from the medical district to the lake to control frequent flooding. Valves will also be installed in the lake to control the tides from the Ashley River and to allow the lake level to be lowered to collect rainwater before hurricanes and heavy rains strike.
These and other proposed building design changes will result in 307 units, 11 less than the previously rejected design. It also includes his 15,000 square feet of retail space on the front and back.
Southeastern attorney Alice Paylor of Saxton & Stump law firm said her client “worked tirelessly with the city” and “made 40 changes as requested.” .
She also noted proposed changes that would “bring great comfort to the lake area and also provide flood relief.”
Peiler lamented the preservation society’s stance on the new design.
“There are some groups that don’t support development allowed by zoning,” she said. “Southeastern is a good neighbor and would be a great developer for this project.”