CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – More commercial space and hundreds of apartments could soon see the light of day in the heart of downtown Charleston after the Charleston Board of Architectural Review gave design approval to a building project in mixed use.
The building, which could bring around 10,000 square feet of retail space and 200 apartments, is part of the planned development of five Courier Square buildings opposite the former Post and Courier headquarters on King Street near Line Street.
Christian Sottile, the lead architect for this building, which is one of many, said it had been in the works for about a decade.
“There will be retail businesses on the street front,” Sottile said. “It will have residential uses above the storefront, and those residential uses will face King Street. Some of them will overlook small gardens and walkways that are in the middle of the block.
As part of the zoning of the land, the building must either keep 20% of its apartments affordable or pay a comparable fee to the city’s affordable housing fund each year.
Sottile said the structure’s design was created with community input through workshops and inspired by the storefronts on King Street.
“It’s not just a presentation of an idea, but we’re actually working here,” Sottile said, “so we’re drawing and rejecting, testing, refining, trying new avenues, so think of it as a studio of open architecture.”
Charleston Historic Foundation Properties Director Justin Schwebler said the inclusion of preservation and community groups is rare in architecture.
“It is very important to create a sense of place that communities can be proud of in the architecture of the city,” he said. “That’s why we value historic buildings in our city because people feel that sense of place.”
Several neighbors said they weren’t surprised that a mixed-use building was planned on the lot, which is currently used as a parking lot.
Schwebler said Charleston is trying to regain the density it had at the turn of the 20th century.
“It’s going to be important to look at ways to increase density and increase livability in our community without necessarily having to create massive apartment buildings like this,” Schwebler said, “but if we’re going to live with large-scale apartment buildings and mixed-use facilities like this, I think this project was a success.
Sottile said they will take the rest of the year to review two more city reviews.
They hope to innovate next year, but the final construction cost has not been announced.
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