Is this the worst street in Charleston?

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Just two blocks from two multi-million dollar developments on Meeting Street, a few minute walk to the Dewberry Hotel that asks upwards of $500 – $600 a night, a stone throw from the illustrious Cooper River Bridge and the mainstay Marion Square is Cooper Street on the East Side of Charleston.? With its burnt down and boarded up homes, garage clustering the sidewalks, unkempt yards and no trespassing signs, this street could be a symbol of the poverty that Charleston is masking from the public as it thrusts itself into a renaissance of prosperity and profit.

How can a street so close to a city thriving in all directions, be so neglected?? This is a only one of many streets and neighborhoods damaged by time and yearning for support or subject to future demolition to make room for the future 5 star city experience of the Jewel of the South.? There are many questions that need to be be addressed?

  • Is the city ill-equipped to assist or are they just choosing to let these neighborhoods rot away until they are taken over?
  • Is there a racial and/or economic struggle within the underbelly of the community?
  • What is the cost of prosperity vs. the cost of fixing the infrastructure and the lives of locals who have called this place home for generations?
  • Is this home work 137K?
  • Or this for 595K
  • Is there room to turn these neighborhoods around or is the end near?

This morning, we walked this street, that to the naked eye, looks like it has been left to die in a wasteland of neglect.

We welcome your thoughts.

 

Greed in Charleston: Downtown Meter Increases; The Latest Example

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By Mark A. Leon

Once again the debate of tourism vs. local livability continues and in a dramatic announcement, the city of Charleston will make a hard-hitting change to the downtown meter system within one month’s time that will put more pressure on our wallets as we try to enjoy the fruits of the historic Charleston peninsula.

As many know, the city of Charleston facilitated a modernizing effort adding new parking meters that allow for credit card payment, replacing the coin only machines in late 2017.? Traditional hours of metered enforcement remained at Monday – Saturday, 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM with Sunday being free for all cars.

Last week the city announced a change that will increase the cost 100% from $1.00 per hour to $2.00 and raise the enforced payment hours from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM adding 45% more hours to the payment enforced period.

There are many that are affected by this change.? One population is the hospitality community and the locals that commute to the peninsula to work in the restaurants, hotels and retails stores.? This accounts for most of the city employees outside of the medical community.? The city has committed to opening a 175-spot parking area on Morrison Street and offering a shuttle service for these individuals.? This service will add more time and challenge to their existing commute.

The city is indicating the reason for the change is to compete with the rising costs of the parking garages who have arbitrarily raised prices to capitalize financially on the growing tourism traffic that has dominated this city.

Here are a few talking points to outline just another example of the opportunistic greed that is taking over the city of Charleston:

  • The shuttle service being offered to local workers will add an additional 40 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes of round trip wait and travel to the hospitality workers forcing them to add more time to their personal commute.
  • Adding a 100% increase in enforced metered cost and a 40% increase in number of hours enforced is a gratuitous example of the growing greed by the Charleston government. This is the same government that took in $1.2 million in meter revenue in 2017 alone.
  • The effort to drive residents working in the city off the streets and into this shuttle service or parking garages is an unspoken statement that the city wants these meters open for the tourists who are driving most of the inflationary and economic decisions in Charleston.
  • Justifying the cost increase to compete with the parking garages, currently at $1.00 per half hour with a max of $16.00, does not make logical urban economic sense – Parking fees and locations
    • Parking meters have limits where garages do not.
    • Parking meters leave cars outside exposing them to the elements of weather and parking garages are sheltered.
    • Street parking puts cars in more danger from being hit by moving vehicles.
    • For these reasons, the equalizing fee match does not make sense.

For Lowcountry residents, this seems like another slap in the face when dealing with the growing costs of commerce, taxation, rent and now parking that is tainting the city of Charleston.

Do you feel this fee increase and increased hours of enforcement are justified?? We would love to hear your thoughts.

The opinions of this article do not necessarily affect the decisions of this publication.? They are the expressed thoughts and commentary of the author.

 

10 Ways Charleston, S.C. has changed for the worse

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By Mark A. Leon

Charleston, South Carolina has taken on a new face.

The new modernized Charleston, with a focus on increasing tourism, corporate infrastructure, increased pricing, more crowded streets, cranes owning the skyline, traffic bottlenecks in all directions and inflationary spikes may be helping this booming economy, but it isn’t what everyone wants.? There are a great many that miss the local first, charming historic appeal of the old Charleston.? We wanted to share some of the ways Charleston has changed for the worse based on social chatter and mood indicators of those that live and breath the Lowcountry air.

10 Ways Charleston, S.C. has changed for the worse

  • Folly Beach is modernizing and monetizing – In case you blinked, there have been some significant changes to our favorite area beach.? We would like to emphasize a few:? 1.? Folly Beach is now charging entrance fees to its street festivals including this weekend’s Folly Gras.? 2.? Arctic has implemented paid parking on the streets.? 3.? The beach entrance parking lots no longer accept money in an envelope.? You must use a phone app to pay for your parking.? 4.? New construction is spiking around the area of Center Street.? 5.? Finally, a digital sign has been added on Folly Road.
  • Local First in downtown Charleston is a thing of the past?– Remember:? Bluestein’s Clothing, Morris Sokol Furniture, Bob Ellis Shoes, King Street Grille, Piggly Wiggly and Hughes Lumber – If you are a local and have been for a number of generations, you are seeing familiar businesses close faster than we can keep count.? There is a simple explanation: the percentage of tourists is growing year over year and the percentage of local patrons is shrinking due to the overcrowded conditions caused by this spike in tourism.
  • Corporate billboards are taking over the city – You need not have lived here long to see the rise of corporate foundations in downtown Charleston and beyond.? Let us highlight some of the big entrances into our charming community:? Starbucks and Whole Foods (West Ashley), Starbucks (James Island), Walgreens (Corner of King and Calhoun), 5 Guys Burgers, Moe’s Southwestern, 3 Starbucks on King Street, West Elm, Louis Vuitton, IHOP, Publix, Vans, Aldo, Forever 21, H&M and more to come in downtown Charleston.
  • Church steeples beautifying the skyline is becoming a thing of the past – Cranes, construction, cranes, construction – That has been the look of our skyline for five plus consecutive years with no indication of a slowing in development.? With the massive projects in the medical district, the corner of Crosstown and Lockwood, across from Joe Riley, Upper King Street and Upper Meeting Street, Charleston is changing forever and rapidly.
  • Charleston is more becoming more known for breweries than the churches of the Holy City – Don’t commit to this number, but we now have over 30 breweries in the Lowcountry and it is estimated there is a brewery for every 10K – 12K citizens in the county.? I am not sure if that is worth celebrating or very alarming.? Charleston is now becoming more known for its craft beer than its history and Holy City architectural charm.
  • Tourism first, local second – We had another record year of tourism.? It is estimated 4.2 million people came through the Charleston International Airport in 2017.? That does not even factor in car traffic.? That is a big number.? It is great for our local economy, but it is a pain point for locals who are fearing the inconveniences of spending time in Charleston.? This truly is a shame.? It is one thing to pledge “Buy Local”, but another to take action to ensure it is happening.
  • Reasonable commutes have vanished – There isn’t much to say here.? You just need to live it every day to understand.
  • Taxation is disrupting local commerce and recreation – I was recently in Minneapolis and Philadelphia where restaurant food and alcohol tax are 6.0%.? I was pleasantly shocked.? For those that have never been here and plan a trip in the near future, this is a key piece of information:? Charleston County sales tax is 9.5%, restaurant food tax is 10.5% and restaurant alcohol tax is 15%.
  • Increased parking rates and penalties have crippled locals ambition to spend time on the peninsula – It was only a few years ago, you could park in a garage on a Sunday and pay a flat fee of $5.00.? It was just over 10 years ago, that a parking ticket cost $10.? Some even remember $7.00.? Now that fine is $45.00 and a garage will cost you $20.00 or more for just a few hours.? There is opportunistic greed and it is very active in our community.
  • Shem Creek has lost its coastal appeal – There is now a parking garage with office suites on the grounds of Shem Creek, a place once known for fishing, kayaking, shrimping and a local coastal hangout.? Times have changed on the Creek.
  • Bonus:? Timeshares in Charleston – If you did not hear the latest news, the Charleston city council approved the development of a 100 unit timeshare on the corner of Calhoun and East Bay in downtown Charleston.

Dear Mayor Tecklenburg, we would like our city back

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Dear Mayor Tecklenburg,

As we look back at 2017, we witnessed record tourism in the Lowcountry, rises in sales tax to 9%, restaurant tax at 10.5%, alcohol restaurant tax at 15%, rising cost of parking garages, increases in parking ticket fines, heavier traffic, road construction throughout the peninsula, continued pollution of the skyline with cranes and building development, family businesses continuing to close their doors and locals turning their heads wondering why we are letting this all happen so fast without any type of regulation or control.

The conclusion is that a select few real estate investors are making a fortune off this record setting growth while the local-residents continue to suffer. Why are we taking a backseat to tourism and opportunistic greed?

Maybe, if all this investment money was staying locally in the South, we may have some level of justification, but a tremendous amount is coming from Northern investors. There is irony there given the negative sentiment many have of Northerners moving in and infiltrating our Southern home.

For the last year, we have seen daily esthetic pollution with Lockwood continuing to be an eye sore by the Ashley Bridge, the intimate Joe Riley Stadium being overrun by a massive building development project, Upper King a continued push North with building development and gentrification and new condos/apartments all around the Cooper River Bridge. But, none of this is new to you and your administration as you have been the Mayor of record as the historic city of Charleston is being destroyed dissolving hundreds of years of simple Southern charm.

It is ok, you are not alone. Folly Beach, Mount Pleasant and West Ashley are following suit. With the new digital sign at the entrance of Folly Beach and a giant chair sponsored by Coca Cola on the pier, Whole Foods in West Ashley, Starbucks on James Island and office buildings, condos and hotels in Mount Pleasant and a parking garage at Shem Creek, it seems the end is nowhere in sight.

For those that have lived for many years in the Lowcountry with reasonable rent increases, new pressures are being felt. Older apartments and condos are starting to capitalize on this greedy focused economy, by renovating old units and raising rents to compete with the new developments and cost of living that is rising much faster than the national average.

What are we doing to solve the flooding issue that has plagued our city for generations? Any progress there or just ideas? Maybe we can get money from the Dewberry or Spectator that is getting $450 – $650 a night for a hotel room or the $250 price tag for New Year’s Eve. Maybe the parking garages that have more than doubled in prices in the last two years could provide financial assistance. Just a thought.

How do we explain the 2017 Charleston County budget? The total spent on Economic Development, Education and Health / Welfare is 26.6 Million.? All three combined is 6.9 Million less than Culture and Recreational spending (26% more). We are hurting in our classrooms with academic rankings low and teacher to student ratios becoming unmanageable and yet only 6.6 Million of 480 Million is allocated for Education. Only 16.1 Million was set aside for Health and Welfare when Charleston County has the largest medical system in the state and we have an opioid epidemic that is alarming. It seems spending is not being properly utilized.

You must feel honored knowing in two short years you have already left such a memorable legacy as Mayor of Charleston. We have witnessed the most development since the post-Civil War reconstruction and bear witness to multi-generational family businesses being closed to make way for conglomerate Real Estate Trusts and Investment tycoons.

You are leading a city known for family and tradition into an era where Charleston is becoming a Southern amusement park of high end shopping, dining, hotels and corporate logos.

We hope next year yields some significant changes and the emphasis turns from tourism to the needs of those that live and reside here.

Regards,

Charleston Daily

My Encounter with an Opportunistic Charleston Homeless Man

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Drinking coffee

By Mark A. Leon

Last evening I was approached by a friendly homeless man on a bike with sweet grass flowers on the corner of Market and Church.? He politely introduced himself and asked my name and made an immediate assumption I was from New York and then when I corrected him, saying I live here, he defaulted to Summerville.? Close, James Island.

After the formalities were out of the way, he indicated that he was not asking for money, but just wanted to be able to put some food in his stomach.? I was pondering for a moment where this conversation was going if he wasn’t asking for money, but wanted food.? I obviously knew where the conversation would lead, but didn’t want to disrupt his elevator speech too quickly.

After a few more sentences, I kindly disrupted, letting him know I only had a phone, car keys and a credit card and absolutely no cash on my person.

He then asked, if I had money, would I have given him some.? I naturally said yes.

Then he said, “Can I ask you a serious question?”

My immediate reaction was that he wanted to ask my opinion on his sales pitch.? A little startled, I said yes as I looked to my right, eagerly awaiting the arrival of my dinner date.? He pointed to the end of Market Street saying, “If you go to the corner right over there and make a right, there is an ATM”.

There it was, a homeless man had just asked me to go to an ATM to get him money.? He wanted me to walk two blocks, get money from an ATM and come back and give it to him.

Now that was bold and opportunistic.

The only flaw was that I haven’t had an ATM card for over 15 years.

The times they are a changing in Charleston.? Opportunity and greed come at all levels.

Happy Holidays Charleston and don’t forget your ATM card.

GALLERY: Signs of Spring Street (Charleston, SC)

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One area of downtown Charleston, SC that has seen tremendous change and personality is Spring Street.? With the recent confirmed decision to make this a two way street and a number of small businesses laying claim to Spring Street as their home, we thought it would be a great time to pay homage to the eclectic personality that is Spring Street.

From the floral beauty of Tiger Lily to the robust smells of Eclectic Coffee and Bearded Cafe, Spring Street is a trendy residential hot spot.

This bustling street, populated by students, locals and business owners is always ready to provide you with an international experience with a Southern smile.

To the yoga studios, salons, restaurants, veggie markets, grocers, Asian cuisine owners and barber shops, we thank you for making Spring Street an experience for all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make Spring Street part of your next downtown adventure.

 

 

Top Reasons Charleston Is Choosing Tourism over Basic Resident Livability

By Mark A. Leon

In a destination? city environment, the municipality walks a fine line between catering to the tourists and the local community.? It is a challenge to balance the needs of one without neglecting the other.? A number of factors play into the decisions around how each group is treated.? Often times, perception plays a part in people’s reactions to some decisions that may affect one group adversely.? We have looked at perception and reality and determined that is there a strong sentiment that local residents are losing the battle to tourism.

The separation point of perception and reality is data.? Data will always provide substantiated evidence.

We have looked at some data points, daily observation and chatter to compile a list of the reasons we feel the city is choosing tourism over resident livability.

  • Multi-million dollar investment firms from out of state and locally are monopolizing on an opportunity to reduce the historic footprint and create a new hospitality center focused on boutique hotels, luxury stay experiences and high end shopping and dining.? These investments range from small to large, including a group of New York investors that purchased the building housing Blind Tiger on Broad Street and the new $100M complex that is being planned for Spring and King.? In between, we are showered by the Dewberry, Spectator, Grand Bohemian, Zero George, Hyatt, Holiday Inn Suites and Hotel Bennett that are changing the face of historic Charleston.? When you have a hotel that can charge $600 a night while you still have issues around waste management and homelessness, it is time to re-think strategy.
  • Generation old local business are being forced out or into retirement due to urban pressures and rising rents.? 2016 saw the end of Hughes Lumber, Bob Ellis Shoes, King Street Grille and Morris Sokol.?? Those four foundations closing their doors speak volumes.? Even this past week, we heard that Fish will be closing on Upper King Street.
  • Limited improvements in roadway infrastructure.? A recent article in the Post and Courier indicated that Charleston residents are paying $1850 annually on average for car repairs due to the poor road systems as a result of the increased traffic in the surrounding counties.? In the cross town we added an aesthetically pleasing divider, yet there are cones, cranes and construction throughout the entire span with some projects taking us through 2020 and beyond.
  • Cost of dining and entertainment have forced many locals to reduce the amount of leisure activity.? With a 10.5% dining food tax and 15% alcohol and increased base prices across the board, the dining experience is shifting from a locals experience to a tourist luxury.
  • Increases in the price of parking garages and more opportunistic valet options.
  • Corporate transition of downtown Charleston – Hyatt, Vans, Forever 21, West Elm, 3 Starbucks on King Street alone (8 total downtown), Panera, Walgreens, Carolina Ale House, Chipotle, Five Guys Burgers, Chik-fil-a, Subway, Williams-Sonoma, Urban Outfitters and Earthbound.? The local names and generational families businesses are losing out to corporate brands.
  • Removing the only neighborhood grocery store in the Northern central part of the peninsula where most of the East Side would shop and masking the concern by funding short term busing options for the residents to get groceries out of the city limits.
  • A poorly managed parking meter system and mass transit service.? There are a few groups that are working hard to change the culture and promote a change in thinking around mass transit, but that isn’t enough.? When cities like Beaufort and Asheville have credit card meters and apps where you can pay, we are lagging far behind.
  • No monthly or annual subsidized parking for employees who work in downtown Charleston.
  • Limited enforcement of jaywalking laws and thus increasing risk of injury.? Limited proposals and implementations around increased biking options for residents.

These are a few of the major reasons, the emphasis is on the tourist and local residents are faced with daily challenges that will continue to mount over the upcoming years.

Charleston Traffic: A Sh*tfest wrapped in a Clusterf*ck: Who is paying the price?

By Mark A. Leon

This afternoon, there was an accident on Highway 26 westbound near Aviation causing a backup nearly to downtown Charleston.? While on Highway 526 near Highway 17, the westbound traffic was blocked off due to another accident causing a 1 hour plus delay.? On River Road on John’s Island, a semi-truck jackknifed off the road blocking off traffic on both sides.? On the crosstown due to construction and a car stalled on the entrance to the crosstown off 26 Eastbound, there was a stop and go back up.

This was today.? This could be any day.

On a typical day, we experience traffic patterns causing extreme pain points throughout our home roadways.

  • The James Island connector can be backed up five or more lights during afternoon rush hour from downtown.
  • Folly Road is constant traffic in both directions throughout the day.
  • Savannah Highway, Bees Ferry, Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant, Harborview Road on James Island, Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant, Route 61 in West Ashley, Ashley Phosphate and Dorchester in North Charleston all suffer tenaciously difficult traffic issues.
  • Rivers Avenue is an adventure and not one for the weak
  • Cooper River Bridge leaving downtown Charleston during rush hour can be a parking lot

Who is suffering from this traffic mayhem that seem to not have a simple answer?

  • The South Carolina drivers wallets and pocketbooks – It was announced this week that South Carolina is raising the gas tax in increments over several periods to support a new state highway funding bill. Beginning July 1, the gas tax will go up 2 cents up to a total of 12 cents a gallon.
  • Vehicle owners in the Lowcountry – We can isolate a location like the Westside, Spring Street, Cannon Street and so on, but for locals, the wear and tear on our vehicles is punishing due to cracks, potholes and construction. A few months ago, the Post and Courier ran an article indicating that the average area car owner spends nearly $1800 annually in car repairs due to poor roadways and flooding.
  • Local business owners – In the past, the Lowcountry has had issues with isolationism.? Folks from James Island didn’t go to Mount Pleasant.? Downtown residents didn’t go to West Ashley and so forth.? In the last five years, that sentiment has grown stronger.? A 10-mile journey can run you 40 minutes or more and that is forcing many to stay truly local.? For small business owners who are fortunate to expand, they are opening multiple site locations throughout the Lowcountry, but for those that do not have the finances to expand, they are being pinched because they cannot get people from other communities to come and shop.? This is forcing many to shut down or look to e-commerce to grow their business.
  • Law Enforcement Charleston and Berkeley counties have amazing and dedicated men and women that work tirelessly to preserve our safety. With increases in accidents and more able bodies needed to support their efforts, state and local law enforcement are being taken away being visible in their communities.
  • Entire infrastructure of Charleston – Most of historic Charleston, SC is below sea level and we are surrounded in most directions by water and marsh. That is okay for walkers, and horse drawn carriages in our quaint historic town.? Even from a strategic standpoint, this area was blessed during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars because it made it very difficult for enemies to penetrate land and easy to defend.? Unfortunately, this area is not built for 45 new residents a day and 4.2 million tourists annually.? You don’t need a Master’s Degree in Urban Development to see that.

Traffic truly is a sore subject here at home.? Some don’t even venture out between 7:00 AM and 9:00 AM or 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM on weekdays or try to leave for the beaches after 11:00 AM on weekends.? The results are “slow”.

The biggest fear, isn’t the inconvenience, increased gas prices or cost of vehicle maintenance, but that the future of the natural resources, the stability of the roadways and the safety of our citizens are in jeopardy.

Why Charleston Isn’t Always “Paradise”

By Mark A. Leon

If you spend any time on social media and frankly, you may have to be living in a bubble or underground not to, the phrase “paradise” is often thrown around when describing Charleston.? As an avid supporter of the beauty, culture, community and charm, it is often easy to do.? We also need to look at the big picture of a geographic region and understand, that reaching the plateau of paradise is often challenging or impossible.? Setting those expectations, can also set others to fail, by painting a false picture of “paradise”.

This article is meant as a tool of awareness that Charleston has its own set of challenges and daily wears.? Like any other city, we have our flaws and many we deal with regularly, while others are growing to potentially explosive proportions.

Here are some of the reasons, Charleston is not always “paradise”

  • Postal System Challenges:? If you are a local, the news that we have a poor postal system in Charleston County should come as no surprise.? From the long lines and slow service to the delayed delivery times, even for local postal items, there is tremendous room for improvement in our postal system.? Often, the daily home deliveries are inconsistent and not uniform.
  • Limited Nature Preserve Outdoor Options:? If you are an avid runner, hiker, biker or adventurer, the term Lowcountry has never had a more defined meaning.? If you are looking for mountains or waterfalls, the closest destinations are four hours plus away from Charleston.
  • Heavy Taxation:? Charleston County just approved in 2016 a 0.5% tax increase bringing sales tax to 9.0% (Higher than New York City).? Our restaurant food tax is 10.5% / restaurant alcohol is 15%.? In a 2016 study, South Carolina was rated the third worst driving state and this has resulted in increases in automobile insurance rates.? This author saw a 22% annual increase in insurance rates without any incident.? In 2018, the annual vehicle renewal fee has added 5 additional taxes to support county programs adding a 310% increase in annual vehicle fees.
  • Housing Costs:? If you are in the real estate market, you are capitalizing on a golden opportunity.? If you are looking to buy a home or rent, you need to do a bit of research, because it may be very costly.? We are in a housing bubble.? One that could grow or explode very quickly.? Recently, a house was sold on The Battery for a record $6.2 Million and houses throughout the county are seeing sharp rises.? This is also affecting rental costs on the peninsula.? In the Elliotborough Section, we found a 3 bedroom, 2 ? bath for $3600 a month.? In 2010, a two-bedroom ranged from $900 – $1300 a month.? Today, that same option is averaging $1600 – $2000.? With the added costs of utilities and internet, it is becoming a struggle to support downtown living.
  • Traffic: The only explanation this needs is experiencing this on a daily basis.? Whether you drive Savannah Highway, Bees Ferry, Highway 17, Interstate 526, Interstate 26, Folly Road or Calhoun Street, maneuvering through the Charleston area is nothing short of a driving nightmare.? If you have the unfortunate distinction of driving during rush hour or tidal flooding, the situation only gets worse.
Spring Street
Spring Street
  • Flooding:? Charleston is coastal living.? There is no denying the unquestionable beauty of the harbors and beaches, but there is also a sustainable issue about flooding on city streets and residential areas.? As an attendee of the recent mayoral debate, flooding was a critical topic throughout the discussion and remains today.? One consistent element the audience took away from the seven candidates, is that no one has a sustained answer on how to address and correct the issue.
  • Unspoken Racism: We are one of the friendliest cities in the country, if not the world.? We don’t protest or riot and we keep to ourselves except for the friendly smile or ‘hello’.? That doesn’t mean we opening believe in equality for all.? Charleston has a clear separation of black and white.? In economics, housing, lifestyle and treatment.? Southern racial tensions are high in Charleston and those that choose to ignore it, are making a clear statement as well.
  • Construction:? You would be hard pressed to remember a time in the last three plus years when there weren’t cranes, construction vehicles, cones or detours destroying the esthetics of The Holy City.? Drive down Lockwood, President Street, Spring Street, King Street, Calhoun or Meeting.? Watch out for potholes and construction workers.? It has been a long time since we didn’t have to walk through a construction tunnel or see a crane blocking one of our beautiful church steeples.
  • Affordability: We have a Mayor that campaigned on “livability”, yet failed to look at affordability as Charleston continues to grow to a “high end” residential and hospitality community.? With the new community taking over Sergeant Jasper, boutique shopping on Upper Meeting, Northern expansion of Upper King, high end hotel development and retail, Charleston is becoming less about appealing to locals and more about tourism.? That position was made very clear when in 2016 when Hughes Lumber, Bob Ellis Shoes and Morris Sokol Furniture closed (All local foundations that stayed in business from 60 to 100 plus years).
  • Identity Crisis: For those that don’t know, James Island resides under two jurisdictions, James Island and Charleston.? There are even two different garbage pick-ups in the same neighborhoods.? Is James Island part of Charleston or its own municipality?? West Ashley has fought for its own namesake for years, but it is still part of Charleston.? This identity crisis needs to be addressed.
  • Corporate Name Tags:? I moved to Charleston partly because of Jestine’s Kitchen and a local record store.? It was the small-town appeal that won me over.? Today, there are 9 Starbucks downtown, Five Guys Burgers, Chipotle, Panera, Subway, Moe’s, West Elm, Williams-Sonoma, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, Godiva, Victoria’s Secret, American Apparel and an Apple Store. ?We expect those corporate name tags to continue to grow.
  • Lack of Ethnic Food: Food is king in Charleston.? Hello, ‘Top Chef’ just filmed here.? You can search the peninsula far and wide (Campus Food excluded) and you will find a large void in ethnic food options.? Traditional Southern cuisine owns downtown.? There are derivatives of that theme, but still one-sided.? If you want true ethnic options, North Charleston offers the best selection.
Radcliffe Street
Radcliffe Street
  • Cooper River Bridge and Ice – I will be the first to say, the Cooper River Bridge is one of the most beautiful bridges I have ever seen.? It is part of who we are and folks around the world identify us by its majestic span.? Many years ago, when the architectural designers laid plans and built this bridge, it came with a flaw, falling deadly icicles.? We don’t often get freezing level temperatures, but when we do, it can and has shut down the bridge that connects Mount Pleasant to Charleston over the harbor.? This shutdown forces traffic to detour to 526 and 26.? If you have lived through it, you have stories, but we don’t recommend it.
  • Rise in tourism and drop in local commerce is driving generational local businesses to sell or go under – The local Charleston community has witnessed dozens of local businesses, annually, closing due to lack of customer traffic and forced increases in rent opening the doors to large corporate retails outlets with deeper pockets.? Yet, the city pushes “buy local”.? Unfortunately, that message is not reaching the masses of tourists coming by boat, car and plane.

Debate and expressionism is healthy.? It breeds creativity and ignites change.? We hope this article opens your minds and reminds you that Charleston is a remarkable place to live, but we have areas that are not perfect.

We welcome your thoughts, comments or stories.

GALLERY: Forgotten Charleston – Images of a City Still in Decay

Huger Street
Huger Street

By Mark A. Leon

While the peninsula is thriving with record numbers of tourists, new high end retail and restaurant neighbors, robust housing prices and hotels and boutiques popping up annually, it is easy to see that sheltered in the thriving Historic Charleston district is a city that is still suffering from the pains of poverty and infrastructural decline.

There are spots of Charleston that resemble poverty stricken Argentina or Camden, NJ more than the majestic Biltmore Estate.

One of the missions of Charleston is one community.? That is a promise made by our leadership and a commitment we stand behind.? Sometimes words and actions don’t always find their way to a cohesive partnership.

We wanted to share some images of Charleston that you may not see in your everyday journey’s or perhaps you just turn a dumb eye.? It is important to bring attention to the fact that we have serious infrastructure concerns, flooding and a growing separation point between the wealthy and the poor.

Cannon Street
Cannon Street

 

 

Upper Rutledge Avenue
Upper Rutledge Avenue

 

King Street Barber Shop
King Street Barber Shop

 

Graffiti on Wentworth
Graffiti on Wentworth

 

Spring Street
Spring Street

 

Unitarian Cemetery
Unitarian Cemetery

 

House behind Emanuel AME
House behind Emanuel AME

 

Westside Neighborhood
Westside Neighborhood

 

Empty Wentworth Home
Empty Wentworth Home

 

Traffic Sign down
Traffic Sign down

 

Ashley Avenue (Colonial Park)
Ashley Avenue (Colonial Park)

 

Waterfront Park
Waterfront Park

 

Radcliffe Street
Radcliffe Street

 

Spring Street
Spring Street

 

Cistern Yard (College of Charleston)
Cistern Yard (College of Charleston)

 

Coming Market
Coming Market

 

Rutledge Avenue
Rutledge Avenue

 

 

Old Door of America Street
Old Door of America Street

 

Cannon Street
Cannon Street