Category: West Ashley
We ask the same 10 questions to very different members of Charleston’s diverse community. This week we met with West Of Publisher/ Editor Lorne Chambers.
1. If you’re not from Charleston originally, where are you from and when did you relocate here?
I was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. but moved to South Carolina when I was 10. So I became pretty southernized pretty quick. But I still bleed black and gold. I was raised in the small town of Greenwood, S.C. until I came to the College of Charleston in 1995. After that I had a brief stint on the Gulf Coast of Florida before relocating back to Charleston and have been here ever since.
Did you go to college, and if so, where?
Yes. I attended the College of Knowledge (aka College of Charleston — Class of ’98)
Occupation, employer, and what your role entails?
Newspaper publisher. I started West Of, a weekly community newspaper for the West Ashley region in 2005. I wear a lot of hats, but mostly handle the editorial side of the business. My wife Lindsey handles the sales side of things. In 2015 she and I purchased the Folly Current, a monthly newspaper for Folly Beach.
How does your company and/or your role affect the community?
I like to think we have a big impact on the communities we cover. The two papers I own cover their respective parts of town exclusively. So we do our best to inform the community of what’s going on from a governmental level to who is playing Saturday night at the bar down the street. Because we are hyper-focused on these communities, I think we have a great responsibility to them.
5.Favorite part of your job?
Putting the puzzle together. I look at every issue like a puzzle — I have this space for news, this space for sports, dining, arts, etc. Of course, it all starts with the ads, and then you have to piece it all together from there. I like the challenge of it together every week.
What area of Charleston do you live in and why do you love it?
I like to think I have dual citizenship. Since I am so ingrained in both West Ashley and Folly Beach, I have to be a citizen of both if I’m to cover either properly. I lived on Folly Beach for eight years until this June when Lindsey and I bought our first house together in West Ashley. It is an exciting time for West Ashley with all the revitalization and growth. So it’s great to be right in the thick of it. But we still are rooted in the Folly community and keep an office there. Folly is a special place, so that is still where I “hang out” the most because I love the bars, restaurants, and people.
Who’s your most-loved local venue/cultural excursion and why?
I’m a beer snob, so I’m super excited about Charleston’s booming brewing industry. I also love that as the laws change, these breweries are becoming gathering places. There are four new breweries slated for West Ashley in 2017, so I look forward to hanging closer to the house when they open. But Folly Beach is my spot. The owners of all the bars and restaurants are not only our clients, but our close friends. So we love just bouncing around Center Street and down the side roads and grabbing a bite, hearing some music, or just having a drink.
Also, before I started West Of, I was the music editor at Charleston City Paper, so I love live music and try to see it whenever I can. I’m really excited about what the Charleston Music Hall has been doing lately with their booking and Alex who owns the Pour House is an old friend of mine, so I like to catch as many live shows there as I can as well.
What’s your go-to local dining or takeout spot, and what do you like to order?
This is a tough question. Charleston is overflowing with amazing places to eat. But whether I’m in town or visiting somewhere else, I always try and seek out small, hole-in-the-wall spots where you’d never expect creative food offerings but will find them. On Folly, Jack of Cups, Chico Feo, and ’Wich Doctor are three prime examples. In West Ashley, Voodoo Tiki Bar is a good example. I’m also a sucker for South Carolina BBQ. I went to Texas recently and ate so much brisket that I literally can’t touch the stuff right now. Maybe I’ll come around to it again, but for now, give me a good pulled pork sandwich with mustard sauce. We have some real good ones in West Ashley too — I could eat Home Team BBQ every day (and almost do), but also love what Anthony is doing over at Swig & Swine, and it’s still hard to beat a classic Bessinger’s BBQ sandwich.
But if we really want to treat ourselves, we don’t mess with all the fancy downtown spots, we head to Mondo’s Italian. It’s a tiny, unassuming spot in a strip mall next to Sonic on James Island. But it has the best Italian food in town, in my opinion. The owner is a great guy and the service is always good. We go there often, but it’s always a treat.
Favorite Charleston day-trip destination?
I’m always amazed by the diversity and beauty we have right here in our backyard. Spending the day at Middleton Place is always a nice getaway. Just walking around the gardens and along the river is a special experience. We often try to parlay our Middleton days with a special dinner or beer tasting they’re hosting or a stay at the Middleton Inn. Besides Middleton, a short trip down the road to Botany Bay in Edisto is a perfect day trip. Its natural beauty is stunning.
10. If you could live anywhere in the world other than the Lowcountry, where would that be?
My wife and I have a secret spot along the Pacific side of Costa Rica. It’s not where all the American surfers go; it’s 45 minutes up a dirt road from the beach to a completely secluded spot in the mountains called Rancho Tranquilo. There are three tiny “ranchos” or palm-thatched huts up on stilts in the middle of the rainforest with literally nothing around but monkeys, toucans, and sloths. Most peaceful place I’ve ever been. We’ve been a couple times, so I suppose if I had to live anywhere other than here, that would be it. There or Chiang Mai, Thailand. A magical little city in the mountains of northern Thailand. Food is amazing, people are friendly, and there’s a just a chill vibe everywhere you go. Kind of like Folly Beach if it were in the mountains of Northern Thailand.
As we evaluate the final quarter of 2016 (so far), not much has changed since the year began. Market predictions have been, in a word, predictable. A relatively comfortable pace of activity has been maintained thanks to continuing low unemployment and mortgage rates. The one basic drag on market acceleration has been inventory decline, and there is little to indicate that the low inventory situation will resolve anytime soon.
Market Stats through October 2016
As anticipated at the outset of the year, demand has remained high through the first three quarters of 2016, propping up sales and prices despite heavy reductions in inventory and months of supply across the country. With rental prices and employment opportunities in a consistent climb, year-over-year increases in home buying are probable for the rest of the year but not guaranteed.
Market Stats through September 2016
Charleston-area home sales increased in August after dipping for the first time in five years in July. Conventional wisdom indicates that year-over-year declines may be present for the remainder of the year, given the low inventory situation in most markets. Demand is certainly present and has created competitive situations that have kept prices up. Rental prices are also up, which may lure more toward home ownership.
Market Stats through August 2016
Looking for things to do in West Ashley? From the always fun West Ashley Park to the brand new farmer’s market and Higgins Pier, there’s a lot of inexpensive (and free!) ways to spend your time outside west of the Ashley River. Here are four of our favorites:
The West Ashley Bikeway starts at Wappoo Road, crosses Highway 61/St Andrews Boulevard, and continues all the way to the beautiful Ashley River, connecting residential neighborhoods along the way, like Sherwood Forest, Maryville, and Ashleyville. And this is a particularly exciting time for the Bikeway, since this summer, Higgins Pier officially opened at the end of the path on the River. The last stretch of the path before the pier is a peaceful one surrounded by forests before giving way to the magnificent view of the marsh. At the pier, you may fish, launch a kayak, or simply meditate with a book under the covered pier head and while away a lovely Charleston Day.
The West Ashley Greenway is a sacred thing for nearby residents, who use the part-asphalt, part-dirt trail for running, walking dogs, and biking. The path is over eight miles long, extending from Wesley Drive (the South Windermere neighborhood) and nearly to Main Road, Johns Island. Along the way is everything from lush, wooded areas, where you can still find fireflies if you go at the perfect hour, to the breathtaking Lowcountry marsh. Go for a walk around 5.30 p.m. and you’ll likely pass many of your neighbors as it’s the most popular time of day to venture out. Don’t forget your bike lights if you go after dark, since the area is not well lit.
Ackerman Park – 55 Sycamore Avenue
This is a two-in-one spot, since you get both produce galore in the great outdoors, plus there’s a dog park — so everyone’s happy, pups included. Launching today, Wed. Sept. 21, 2016, the West Ashley’s farmer’s market is a huge, welcome addition to the area, since with it comes boocoos of both established and fresh, new producers and food products. Get in on the action while you can, because this farmer’s market only goes every Wednesday until October 26.
3601 Mary Ader Avenue
Off Glenn McConnell Highway, you’ll find an oasis from the freeway at West Ashley Park, one of Charleston’s largest recreational parks. The park is 260 acres large, comprising everything from playgrounds (two) and a basketball court to a soccer field and an 18-hole disc golf course, which brings sports lovers of all ages and levels of expertise. Walk on the lush path past gorgeous swamps to a serene pond, where fishermen cast their lines and watch wild birds wander about. Bring your pups, too, because the park also boasts a dog park.
What’s your favorite outdoor spot in West Ashley?
Charleston is nothing if not a city that brunches. On East Bay Street alone, the variety of eggs and breakfast-y booze available is abundant — and most of it is pretty wonderful. But while locals on a budget love a High Cotton jazz brunch or the gospel brunch at Hall’s Chophouse on King Street, we have to save those spots for special occasions. That’s not to say we deny ourselves of the benefits of brunch, but we stick to places in our neighborhoods that won’t do too much damage to our bank balances. Here are a just a few local favorites downtown and in West Ashley, James Island, North Charleston, and Mt. Pleasant — all are delicious and easy on the wallet!
132 Spring St.
This newbie cafe has it all — records, coffee, alcohol, and a delectable food menu. One recent brunch involved chili cheese lobster on a grilled crouton with two sunny-side-up eggs and a slice of thick-cut heritage bacon — which is all you really need to know. Oh, and mimosas are $3.50 all day on Sundays.
17 Lockwood Drive
The best view downtown can be found at this hidden gem: the Marina Variety Store. Located on the harbor, this nautical treasure has everything from crab benedicts to gator and grits. It’s favorite amongst locals, who also love to sip on cocktails later on at the downstairs Salty Mike’s.
1977 Maybank Hwy.
You can’t beat the Pour House on a Sunday afternoon. Dine outside at the Lot next door or grab grub from behind the Pour House with a local food truck. A Motown band provides the tunes every week, and lots of local vendors — you’ll find everything from local eggs to art to records — provide a cool post-or-pre-brunch shopping experience.
801 Folly Road
Oh the wonders that await at Sweetwater for a fraction of the price you’re used to. Chocolate chip pancakes. Cheese grits. Square biscuits. Corn Flakes French toast. Need we say more?
817 Savannah Hwy.
Not a single tourist would think to venture to this popular neighborhood dive in West Ashley for brunch, but that’s all fine for local residents — we don’t mind keeping the goodies like the crawfish omelet as our little secret. They claim to be “Charleston’s oldest bar, by far,” and that alone is can speak to locals’ loyalty to this roomy spot that comes complete with a shuffleboard table.
1644 Savannah Hwy.
The brunch lines at Early Bird are long, but for good reason. You’ll be scarce to find a better, or cheaper, menu of refined favorites, like chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, curried scramble, and an always-unique pancake special. No booze is served here, so those lines do move fast, y’all.
427 W. Coleman Blvd.
This relaxing locals haunt is known for its great range of draft beers and killer burgers, but the brunch is popular, too. Here, you’ll love the steak and eggs, fried-green tomato benedict, huevos rancheros, biscuits and gravy, chicken biscuits, Med scramble, and more — but our favorite has to be the crab, asparagus, and cream cheese omelette.
1313 Shrimp Boat Lane
While Vickery’s is located in Shem Creek, where tourists often flock, it’s also a staple amongst locals. The restaurant’s Bloody Mary’s alone have driven locals here for well over a decade, and the view is hard to beat on any day of the week. The menu hasn’t changed a lot, if at all, over the years, because it’s that good: sandwiches and salads galore plus brunch specials, including the famous “big, ugly biscuit.”
LoLa 4830 O’Hear Ave.
The Lowcountry meets Louisiana at LoLa in Park Circle. During Sunday brunch, it’s all about the chicken and waffles, omelets, benedicts, duck confit hash, and the gator, eggs, and grits. They also do mimosas and bloodies — and oyster shooters for the truly adventurous.
4438 Spruill Ave.
Park Circle’s The Junction doesn’t mess around when it comes to brunch. Here, you’ll find it hard to pass up the Mexican Hash (cactus-braised pork, black bean pico, cheesy hashbrowns, over-easy egg, house jalapeno-honey hot sauce) or the brownie pancakes with strawberry jam and whipped cream! They also serve wine and such, should you be in the mood for it.
So many more great places to choose from, what’s your favorite local brunch spot?
According to preliminary data released by the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors®, there has been a 2.8% decrease in sales volume and 1.5% growth in median price, comparing last July to this July. Inventory has declined by 22% over the last 12-month period, with 5,335 homes listed as “active” for sale in the Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service (CTMLS) as of July 31.
“The sales dip can be attributed to several factors. The current lack of inventory is certainly a major reason. Over the last 3 years, sales have peaked in June and this year is no exception,” said 2016 CTAR President Michael Sally. “The year-to-date numbers are strong, and a sign of steady growth. We should see similar, sustainable numbers over the next few months.”
Market Stats through July 2016
With an interest rate increase still in the cards this year, combined with the American political landscape and global economic events, a cooldown could occur by winter. Presently, however, summery growth prevails as many locales are reaching near-record prices not seen in more than a decade.- According to Charleston Trident Association of Realtors