The long-awaited effort to redevelop the Sgt. Jasper building on the Charleston peninsula continues to move forward — with or without the support of activist groups, such as the Historic Preservation Foundation, Preservation Society of Charleston, and Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, who continue to express disdain for the settlement reached between the city and The Beach Company this summer.
In the latest signs of progress for the project, the Charleston City Council earlier today voted 10-3 to amend the city’s Comprehensive Plan to allow for the the “Gateway Overlay Zoning” approved by the city council in June.
The new zoning overlay effectively permits property owners in certain areas to swap commercially zoned square footage for residential use.
Despite criticism of the zoning overlay by some of the previously mentioned activist groups, city council member William “Bill” Moody, Jr. told Palmetto Business Daily last month that having residential as the primary use on the Jasper site is exactly what the groups wanted.
“In all our negotiations with the communities and everybody, everybody said we would prefer to have residential on that site,” said Moody.
John Darby, CEO of The Beach Company, affirmed Moody’s statements.
“Since our very first design proposal presented in 2014, the City and public participants indicated that residential was preferred as a primary use,” said Darby in a statement issued after the city council’s vote. “Tonight’s vote advances that vision for the site. We look forward to continuing to work with the City to create a landmark gateway to the historic district.”
The city council’s vote comes two weeks after Circuit Court Judge J.C. Nicholson rescinded his order that the City of Charleston Board of Architectural Review (BAR) overstepped its authority in denying The Beach Company’s application to redevelop the Sergeant Jasper property.
Judge Nicholson's action was taken to validate the settlement agreement reached between the City of Charleston and The Beach Company earlier this summer. The Beach Company, as part of that agreement, also went ahead and dismissed its appeal of the BAR's ruling.
These latest actions are a clear sign that, after several years of legal wrangling and negotiation, the Sgt. Jasper redevelopment is finally picking up steam. So, why are some groups continuing to attempt to stymie the project?
“Neighborhood associations are fighting because they don’t (want) anything on that property, said Moody.
It appears those groups won’t get what they want — but that the citizens of Charleston will get a revitalized Jasper, designed by a world-renowned architect, approved after years of public discourse and millions spent by a long-time Lowcountry developer.