Category: Interesting Charleston Facts
Charlestonians have a fond familiarity with Colonial Lake. Originally called Rutledge Street Pond, the lake is located in the heart of the Harleston Village, which stretches from Broad to Calhoun streets and Lockwood Drive to King Street. From sunbathers and students to runners and dog walkers, Colonial Lake is a special part of many folks’ daily lives — and has been since as far back as the 1700s.
In honor of Colonial Lake’s recent restoration, we thought it fitting to give you a brief history into the life of the beloved wee body of water. Here are 7 things you may not have known about Colonial Lake:
1. The area in which the lake sits was established for public use in 1768 by an Act of the Commons House of Assembly. The lake, evolving from a pond, would not come into existence until later on in 1869, complete with the wide walkways and picturesque promenade enjoyed now for well over a century.
2. Back then, the area west of the pond was an undeveloped area — unlike now where Harleston is a lively neighborhood complete with everything from tennis courts and fine-dining restaurants to antique shops, art galleries, and the College of Charleston.
3. Colonial Lake was once a popular spot for parking one’s boat, so much so that it soon became illegal to park your boat there without a license. By 1910, folks even staged boat races in the pond — the same year that Palmetto trees were planted in the park’s promenade.
4. In the early to mid ’70s, passersby could enjoy the lake’s fountains. They were removed in ’77 because of complaints of its saltwater overspray.
5. You can fish in Colonial Lake. A tidal lake after all, Colonial Lake has been known to deliver mullet, mud minnows, shrimp, and flounder when the tide is high. Its pipe runs from the lake, under the streets, and into the Charleston Harbor, so if it’s big enough to swim through the pipe, it just may wind up in Colonial Lake. For example, six years ago, a College of Charleston retrieved a 45-inch red drum from its waters.
6. In 2008, a deer was pulled out of Colonial Lake, believe it or not. Various witnesses reported seeing the deer wandering around the historic downtown area before running down Rutledge Avenue and into the water. It took rescuers several hours to sedate the animal and remove it from the lake.
7. You’d be forgiven if you hadn’t heard that the Park is officially open again. Fenced away in January of 2015, Colonial Park has experienced extensive renovations, much to its regulars’ dismay. However, a year-and-a-half and four-million dollars later, the Park got its official unveiling earlier this summer.
At long last, Harleston Village’s centerpiece, the place where locals often go to contemplate, has returned to its old, if more beautifully landscaped, self.
Since Charleston weather is picnic-permitting more often than not, Colonial Lake gets plenty of enjoyment year-round — be it for local joggers during the dog days of summer or for visitors and residents alike in the Christmas season, when a Christmas tree is lit in the center of the water.
What’s your favorite time of year to enjoy Colonial Lake?
Wagener Terrace is where downtown locals love to live. Away from the bustle of the more touristy parts of downtown, Wagener Terrace is an oasis filled with wide sidewalks, Spanish moss-covered live oaks, quiet living, and friendly neighbors, the latter of which range from families to young professionals. Still on the Charleston peninsula, Wagener Terrace is biking distance to the city’s theaters, antiques, shopping, and nightlife.
But there’s still plenty of fun to be had within walking distance inside this serene pocket of the peninsula. These are just a few of our favorite things to do in and around Wagener Terrace:
Play: The biggest highlight to living in this area has to be the accessibility to Hampton Park, which is below Wagener Terrace in the Hampton Park Terrace neighborhood. The largest park on the peninsula, Hampton Park is 60 acres of green space where locals jog, bike, walk dogs, picnic, and play. Weddings are held in the park’s picturesque gazebo, books are read by the fountain, and there are plans for an abandoned concessions stand at the park to be restored by the neighboring Park Cafe.
Eat: Speaking of Park Cafe, the bright, airy, and simplistic Rutledge Avenue restaurant is a neighborhood favorite for quality farm-to-table food, wine, and coffee. Just up the street, you’ll find Rutledge Cab Co., another popular local eatery and bar that’s half-owned by actor and Charleston local Bill Murray and features live local music each week. Very close to Wagener Terrace and Hampton Park Terrace is a trendy new spot called NoMo, where you’ll find tons of live music and great wings at Home Team BBQ, a killer brisket at Lewis’ Barbecue, a bar menu and brunch you won’t forget at Edmund’s Oast, and duck-fat fries, taxidermy, and good times at the Tattooed Moose.
Drink: Also close to Hampton Park is Moe’s Crosstown Tavern, a buzzing local dive bar with great grub and a casual, unpretentious atmosphere. For a local craft beer, head straight to Wagener Terrace’s own Cooper River Brewing Co. on Mechanic Street, where you can get anything from a glass of Nitro Stout to a growler of IPA. If you’re in the mood for the lighter stuff, check out Huriyali Gardens, a vibrant wee juice haven on Huger Street with nutrient-rich, organic foods and juices and an adjacent garden that will make you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a magical hidden gem.
Dance: If you’re in the mood for a boogie, head down to the nearby Faculty Lounge on Huger Street. Not only can you find a reason to dance on weekend nights, the Faculty Lounge also features a quality cocktail menu and a chic, local vibe every single evening.
Shop: Locals can bike to Food Lion on King Street, the only large-scale grocery store near the neighborhood. As far as any other types of shopping — be it organic foods or clothes or antiques — there are plenty of great spots a short drive away in either the Historic District or over the Ravenel Bridge in Mt. Pleasant.
If this sounds like your kind of neighborhood, stop by the Real Estate Studio and see what adorable bungalows are for sale!
No matter the time of year or where you are, you can’t go wrong with a Lowcountry sunset. And there are plenty of key spots, from the resort town of Kiawah all the way up the coast to secluded Dewees Island, to maximize your evening enjoyment. We’re just going to mention a few here, but you can count on us to post some additional spots throughout the year. Here are some of our favorite places for sunset views on the Charleston Coast.
One of the best and (most delicious) places to enjoy a Kiawah Island sunset is at the Ryder Cup Bar at the Ocean Course. You can grab a drink, sit on the porch, and watch the majesty unfold. In the summers, they host the appropriately named Sunset Raw Bar on the veranda, where you can enjoy fresh seafood with an ocean view. As the sun sets, you’ll hear live jazz blend with the sounds of the sea.
With three miles of pristine beaches on Seabrook Island, you have plenty of perfect places to catch a beautiful sunset. One of our favorite spots is Pelican Beach, which, fittingly enough, is also nicknamed Sunset Beach. Pelican Beach is where the Edisto River meets the Atlantic Ocean, and its gentle current offers little to no waves and still waters. If you’re partial to a sunrise, head to Seabrook’s North Beach, the widest beach in South Carolina, where the early morning views are spectacular.
If you’ve ever been to Folly Beach around sunset, you know there are more than a few places with views that can only be described as life-changing. The vistas from Bowen’s Island Restaurant, which is 2.6 miles from Folly Beach, will make you want to settle down forever in this pocket of the Lowcountry. Similarly, the views from Crosby’s Fish and Shrimp, which you’ll see on the right just before crossing over the bridge to Folly, redefine ‘the good life.’ With the surrounding marsh, shrimp boats, and dolphins, your worries are bound to melt away during a summertime sunset.
The sun sets on the Ashley River side of the peninsula, so for fantastic views, take a picnic to Brittlebank Park, which is located on Lockwood Drive near the Riverdogs stadium and is right on the river. Or you could head across the Ashley River bridge to the round Holiday Inn on Savannah Highway and take the elevator to the top. There you’ll find a cocktail bar with glass walls that allow for breathtaking views of Charleston sunsets. Another tip: Should you be close-by during a thunderstorm, there is no better place to watch a lightning show than from this viewpoint.
There are so many wonderful spots to watch the sun go down in Mount Pleasant. Shem Creek, Patriot’s Point, Alhambra Hall, the Pitt Street Bridge, and the list goes on. But we couldn’t feature the sun’s descent over Charleston without the obligatory Ravenel Bridge shot. Seeing the sun set from any vantage point East of the Cooper is special, but when you can see it go down from atop our beautiful Cooper River bridge, it’s going to be a good night.
For a memorable Sullivans Island sunset, make your way toward the lighthouse (park at Station 19). At low tide, you’ll find one of the widest, smoothest, most relaxing beaches in South Carolina. As the sun sets, you can spot the Ravenel Bridge in the distance. Between the expansive shore and the sea, you’ll often find calming, shallow pools perfect for an evening walk and wade.
Isle of Palms
Not only is Isle of Palms’ Boathouse at Breach Inlet Restaurant well-known for great food and delicious drinks, but it’s also the place to be for a sunset on the island. Directly across from the launch site of America’s first submarine, the HL Hunley, the Boathouse at Breach Inlet provides a perfect spot for sipping a cocktail and enjoying a fabulous evening view with friends.
If you ever make the trek to Dewees Island, and we suggest you do, you’ll want to make sure you stay late enough to catch the sunset. Or better yet, check out Dewees Rentals for an extended visit to this wild, rugged wonderland. Dewees is a nature-lover’s paradise with no restaurants or stores, no cars or stoplights. The sunset from the Ferry dock is amazing, but The Lone Cedar Dock also offers a perfect vantage point to enjoy the last rays of daylight.
We’ll keep adding to this list, but in the meantime… where will you catch your next Lowcountry sunset?
Granny-flat, mother-in-law-suite, tiny house, laneway house, carriage house- they go by many names. But whatever you want to call them, “Accessory Dwellings” are becoming more and more common in the Charleston area. Accessory Dwellings are typically small habitable structures on the same property as (or attached to) single family homes. There are many types but the most popular is an adorable tiny house that sits in your backyard. Other types include a small apartment over your garage or even a basement apartment, although basements are not typical to our area. No matter the physical form of your Accessory Dwelling, the structure is legally the same property as the main home. This means it cannot be bought or sold separately, like a condominium or a dwelling on wheels could be.
In some cases, homeowners want an Accessory Dwelling for the obvious reason – extra income. You could rent out the space to a young professional, a college student, or even your own adult children that just won’t leave home! Accessory Dwellings could also allow parents to live smaller after their children leave the nest or let an elderly couple live without navigating stairs or maneuvering around a large floor plan.
If you plan on building one that is one story and less than 120 square feet, then you do not need a permit in Charleston County. A zoning permit is required for a structure larger than 120 square feet, and if you are in a residential district, all Accessory Dwellings (besides garages and carports) must be in the rear of the property behind the main home or office. The space of your parcel must also be at least twice the size of the Accessory Dwelling. The Post & Courier recently wrote an article on the rules and regulations of Accessory Dwellings. Make sure you check with your local authorities about specific zoning laws in your neighborhood. For all the details and requirements on Accessory Dwelling Units in Charleston, click here.
Jamme Construction, of Mount Pleasant has erected several Accessory Dwellings in Mount Pleasant. Paul Jamme has been specializing in custom home building in the Lowcountry since 1994 and wants to make sure that the public knows that the construction of an Accessory Dwelling is hard work and a serious construction job. Just because they are small doesn’t mean they are easy! Think about it for a moment. Accessory Dwellings are so small yet so functional. That is mainly because of innovative solutions to things like storage and floor space, which is why you will often see dining tables that fold down from the wall, Murphy beds, and cabinets or drawers under seating. For more information on building an Accessory Dwelling in Charleston, contact Paul Jamme.
Folly Beach owners and vacationers can breathe a sigh of relief knowing their beach won’t be eroding away any longer into the Atlantic. In 2011 Hurricane Irene took a serious bite out of the beach and the city has been fighting to get the money ever since.
The Army Corp of Engineers has provided $20 million to the city for the renourishment project. As part of a lawsuit settlement, the federal government is obligated to pay for renourisment every 8 years, or as needed, due to erosion caused by the Charleston jetties.
The renourishment will begin in the Fall after the turtle nesting season and will be completed by the Summer of 2014. Dredging will occur 3 miles off shore and be spread along the same footprint as 2005. It is quite an interested scene to watch the dredging happen and what a difference it makes. You can see in the picture below what a difference dredging did for the Wild Dunes beach. I look forward to the result.
Also in exciting news, the Folly Beach Park, after being closed since September 2011, will be reopening on July 3rd, just in time for the July 4th festivities. The commission members decided to go ahead and fund the $3 million renourishment project to get the park open. They couldn’t wait any longer. This is good news for Folly Beach and good news for everyone that enjoys that beautiful part of the island.
You never know who you might see around the next corner or at the local watering hole in Charleston. A surprise music gig by Kevin Costner, Kiefer Sutherland putting back a few with some local fans on the Isle of Palms, Anthony Kiedis with bodyguard in tow at the City Market, Elvis Costello at the hat shop, and the one celebrity spotting I’m sad I missed, Guy Pierce just hanging out at the City Market too. Oh and how can I forget Bill Murray who is seemingly everywhere around town.
Most know by now that Lifetime TV’s Army Wives shoots in Charleston and we have a rich history with big feature Hollywood films too. For instance, Cold Mountain, Dear John, and The Notebook just to name a few have used Charleston’s diverse locales to their advantage. Now, the latest is a potential 2013 CBS pilot that will be set in Charleston called Reckless.
From Deadline TV “The Charleston, SC-set project centers on Jamie (Anna Wood), a gorgeous Yankee litigator, and Roy (Cam Gigandet), a Southern City Attorney, who struggle to hide their intense attraction while clashing over a police sex scandal. Rodriguez plays Preston, a well-respected police detective who works on the Charleston Pd alongside Trey (Shawn Hatosy).”
Even though there are consistently projects being filmed here, it’s still exciting to see local places on television as well as the occasional familiar face or friend who plays an extra.
Charleston is a foodie’s dream town. One could make a solid argument that Charleston restaurants have the cachet of the best in New York City, with merely an exorbitant price tag, not an extra exorbitant one. And on the lower end of the food spectrum, after many visits northeast to the in laws over 10+ years I will make the bold statement that Charleston now has the finest pizza and I given up the idea of trying to find a better slice up north.
But I digress. The James Beard Award ceremonies will be held May 3 and 6 in New York City. They are often referred to as “the Oscars of food.” They award food journalism, photography, restaurant design, and of course, chefs! The nominees were announced in Charleston at Lowndes Grove Plantation and of course there were some local names on that list.
In Charleston, The Ordinary (Mike Lata’s seafood and oyster restaurant on King St.) is nominated as Best New Restaurant, McCrady’s chef Sean Brock is nominated for Outstanding Chef, and Nathalie Dupree is nominated for the American Cooking Book award for Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking co-written with Cynthia Graubart. Both Lata and Brock are previous award winners for Best Chef in the Southeast.
Dunes Properties wishes everyone great luck. And while we’re at it, let’s plug an extended member of the Dunes Properties family’s cookbook. Dunes co-founder Betty Poore’s cousin Lisa Dupar is a chef in Seattle and has this tasty cookbook out Fried Chicken and Champagne . It’s quite popular around the office.
by Kristin B. Walker, dunes properties of Charleston agent, 843.412.3333
As we enter our first full week of 2013, I thought I’d take a look back at Charleston in 2012. Really, it was quite a banner year for us for a myriad of reasons! Our economy boomed, the real estate market turned around, we received accolades galore and 2013 looks even brighter. So take a look at my lists and predictions below. Will it be sunshine and blue skies??
What went right in 2012.
The unemployment rate in Charleston County dropped to 6.5%. According to the Charleston Regional Business Journal, we’ve reached a 4-year low and Charleston has the lowest unemployment rate in the state. We’re better than the national average of 7.8%.
We had very high hotel occupancy rates Downtown at about 83%. In April 2012, it was 92%. It’s getting very hard to find a good room. See my 2013 comments for the remedy on that.
Downtown Charleston has a retail vacancy rate of 1.6%. Unbelievable right? It seems a far cry from just a few years ago when there were so many empty storefronts and ‘pop-up’ shops stood in just to fill the void. Lower King Street saw a plethora of new clothing and design boutiques open up, and Upper King Street of course benefitted from new restaurants galore.
What seemed like a million restaurants opened. Honestly, I couldn’t keep up. And it wasn’t just Downtown where this happened since Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant has seen a resurgence as well. Read about Charleston’s Food Insanity on my blog.
The real estate market turned around in a big way. I am officially calling the bottom of the market as December 2011. Anyone care to challenge me? Obviously low mortgage rates helped to spur demand in 2012, investors flocked to foreclosures and well-priced listings, the stock market did better, and our Charleston economy regained strength. The end result? Median home prices are up and we currently have a balanced supply of properties on the market (though in certain neighborhoods or price ranges, it has now become a seller’s market.)
We made a whole bunch of Top 10 lists. Some are ridiculous, some a bit doubtful, but hey, we’ll take it!
- Number one tourist destination in the U.S. and the WORLD. Oh Conde Nast – this one seems a bit ludicrous given the selection of amazing cities around the world, but I do think one thing is different about Charleston that you can’t experience in most other places. Our city is human-scaled, and therefore intimate and knowable. Couple that with our beauty, food, culture and history, you’ve got a winner.
- Number four in most attractive people. We used to be number one, but I think a little humility is in order, particularly given that we are number one city in the WORLD.
- One of Ten best shopping streets in the country. Take that Atlanta and Charlotte! U.S. News thinks we are prettier.
- Number four in most inebriated cities in the U.S. Well, I can’t say this award isn’t well deserved. Everyone knows that Charlestonians love their cocktails, but really, it is not our fault. Our several-hundred-year-old heritage includes a combination of baudy sailors (pirates?) and debaucherous, wealthy newcomers enjoying the good life. And with our gorgeous weather, endless selection of fun things to do, and general good cheer, it seems this kind of lifestyle runs in the city’s veins.
- For even more ranking and accolades, check out the Charleston Regional Development Alliance’s running list and infographic.
So what’s going to be big in 2013?
The rise of Silicon Harbor. That’s right – not Silicon Valley, but Silicon Harbor, the term coined for the concentration of technology-based companies in the area. Charleston Magazine wrote extensively about this in their most recent issue, profiling several rapidly expanding companies including Bibliolabs, SPARC and PeopleMatter, who will bring hundreds of high wage jobs to Upper King Street. And keep your eye out for the new tech conference in town in April – DigSouth! No longer are our eggs only in the tourist and Port baskets.
We’ll be adding at least 1500 more hotel rooms to the Downtown Peninsula. That’s more than a 43% increase over our existing rooms! The Post and Courier has a nice article on it that outlines where the new hotels are going – from the new Holiday Inn on Meeting Street, to the renovation of the Federal Building on Marion Square, to the opening of several boutique hotels.
Things with wings will expand. Not only is our Charleston International Airport going through a major renovation and runway redo, but also Boeing keeps on growing, with the addition of more buildings and an option on over 1000 acres of land. And yes, we will be welcoming JetBlue airlines to our blue skies in February!
More retail and restaurants will come to King Street and surrounds. This seems obvious given all the plans in the works, but my hunch is we will get at least two new MAJOR retailers in 2013. One will fill out the space left vacant by Williams Sonoma moving up the street (I think it will be something like H&M), and the other will be in the long-vacant building on the corner of King and Calhoun on Marion Square. No word on what it is yet…
More swaths of bleak on the Peninsula will be under construction. There are still countless areas on the Peninsula that are concrete parking lots, or run down, or lifeless. I believe in 2013 many of these places will begin to change. While some of these statements I know to be true, some are predictions of mine, so feel free to add your own two cents!
- The Horizon Development has accepted 6 proposals and will break ground in 2013.
- The cruise ship issue will be solved, and therefore the unattractive, yet extremely valuable land around it currently owned by the Port Authority will go up for bid.
- The Post and Courier will start the initial phase of its Upper King Street development, eventually bringing the liveliness of Upper King all the way to the highway overpass.
- Meeting Street by the Ravenel Bridge will see the skate park go in, and some other ventures will follow. The goal is to make the main entryway to Charleston just a bit more attractive.
- Morrison Drive will continue drawing local businesses.
- The Cigar Factory will rise again (for the second time).
- The Spring/Cannon corridor will receive a beautiful ‘facelift’.
The real estate market will continue to improve. I hate to make these assumptions since anything can change, but all the economic indicators here point to yes. Projects that have been lying in wait will come back on the market, vacant lots Downtown will continue to have new homes, more sellers will put their homes up for sale after waiting for the market to recover, more Gen Y people will make a move from renting to buying, and more people will be moving here and investing in real estate.
So all in all, 2013 is looking good! As I enter my 8th year in a row of living here (11 total), I continue to thank my lucky stars Charleston is the city I call my home, the number one city in the WORLD.
-Kristin B. Walker, 843.412.3333
by Kristin B. Walker, dunes properties of Charleston agent, 843.412.3333
Downtown Charleston Restaurant Openings – December has seen (and will see) a slew of restaurant openings Downtown.
The Ordinary – Mike Lata’s (of FIG) new oyster hall on Upper King
The Rutledge Cab Co. – Bob Carter and Bill Murray’s (yes, THE Bill Murray) new place in Wagener Terrace
The Rarebit – a 60s chic diner on Upper King
The Green Door – a creative cuisine dive joint off East Bay
Republic Reign (in Chai’s old spot on Upper King) will be opening on New Years Eve.
All this in one month, on our tiny little Peninsula!
-Kristin Walker, 843.412.3333