FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Concept Includes Custom House Wharf, Restored Natural Shoreline, More Public Access to Waterfront
Charleston, SC - Plans to relocate the passenger terminal, as well as a concept plan for the Union Pier property along the Cooper River, were presented today at a community meeting in the current Passenger Terminal.
The meeting was hosted by the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA), which owns the property and has been working closely with the City of Charleston, the community and a professional planning team led by Cooper, Robertson & Partners.
“This has been a collaborative process,” noted SCSPA President and CEO Jim Newsome. “We have benefited from community input all along the way, and this concept plan specifically reflects what the community told us they want.”
Newsome said that the community's interests became very clear through a series of meetings with numerous neighborhoods, individuals and groups. “People told us that they want a more attractive cruise terminal, more public access to the waterfront and additional uses for the Union Pier property. They certainly want a plan to address traffic. They also want a plan that is contextual, considering not only our entire Union Pier property, but also the context of other plans for the peninsula. We believe that this concept plan is responsive to all of those points.”
Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley echoed Newsome's enthusiasm for the new passenger terminal location and concept plan. “Shifting the cruise terminal north on the Union Pier property is a fine solution. It affords us the opportunity to better manage traffic, while also eventually opening the remaining land to additional uses and making this property an integral part of our city,” he said. “The concept plan does that and more. It connects the community to the water, doing so in an appropriate scale, and it will enhance Charleston for residents and visitors alike.”
The concept plan was presented by Cooper Robertson founding principal Jaquelin T. Robertson. He set the context for the plan, referring to Charleston's rich maritime history and how the uses of Charleston's waterfront have changed over the years.
Robertson traced the importance of the Market Street axis, leading to the historic Custom House. He also showed a working granite wharf that now lies buried beneath the parking lot in front of the current cruise ship terminal. The concept plan uncovers and restores that historic wharf as part of a substantial public space that will serve residents and visitors all year long.
Robertson showed how the cruise operations would be shifted to a more northern location on the property, a move that would mitigate traffic associated with cruise ships. The single terminal would accommodate only one ship embarking or debarking at a time, reflecting the scale of Charleston.
Robertson also explained that removing much of the deck and buildings around the existing terminal that reach out into the Cooper River could restore a green, natural shoreline approximately twice the length of Waterfront Park.
Finally, Robertson pointed out that the remainder of the property would then be available for a number of uses - residential, commercial and public - that could be created in response to the needs of the community and the market place.
Following the introduction of the concept plan, community members discussed the plan with members of the planning team in break-out sessions and provided additional input.
Newsome concluded the session. “In keeping with our goals and influenced by community input, this concept plan addresses the pressing need for a new cruise terminal in the context of how the remaining land could be used. The cruise terminal is the first step and will be our immediate focus, as further community input and the market place drive the concept plan's specifics and timing.”
Newsome also noted that the community can continue to get information and comment at www.UnionPierPlan.com.
About the South Carolina State Ports Authority The South Carolina State Ports Authority, established by the state's General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport facilities in Charleston and Georgetown, handling international commerce valued at more than $62 billion annually and receiving no regular taxpayer subsidy. An economic development engine for the state, port operations facilitate 260,800 jobs across South Carolina and nearly $45 billion in economic activity each year.