Are property rights safe in Charleston?
That's the question being asked by The Beach Company in the wake of the Charleston Board of Architectural Review's (BAR) choice to defer its decision on the conceptual review of company's "Plan A" for the Sergeant Jasper redevelopment project.
This is the latest in a series of delays for the project, which has seen The Beach Company come under fire from activists and city planners for its proposed concepts.
"For several years, The Beach Company has worked closely with stakeholders and the city’s planning department to create various plans that meet all zoning requirements for the site, but has been met with delays and obstacles time and time again," said the company in a statement.
"Today’s decision only further stalls the process, which adds additional costs to the project and sends a loud message to investors that their property rights are not safe in Charleston," the statement continued.
Last November, the City of Charleston Planning Commission even considered a proposal to lower the height restrictions on certain downtown properties — a measure specifically aimed at the Sergeant Jasper property.
On the eve of that planning commission vote, the Trident CEO Council issued a letter urging the commission to “respect property rights" by rejecting the height reduction proposal. The council warned that such a measure could harm future economic development in the Lowcountry and cause smart investors to “shy away” if the city failed to “honor its past commitments.”
The planning commission eventually rejected that measure on an 11-1 vote. Almost four months later, the project continues to be delayed.
The Beach Company is promising to "continue to explore all of its options" to build a "Sergeant Jasper building worthy of the site."
Will the continued delays, however, lead other developers to worry whether or not their investments and property rights are safe in the city of Charleston?
Time will tell if that's the case, but today's BAR decision certainly doesn't help.