In recent years the popularity of Mount Pleasant, especially the area near Coleman Blvd. and Shem Creek, has skyrocketed. This has created a tug of war between existing homeowners in the Old Village, Old Mt. Pleasant, and Shem Creek neighborhoods south of Coleman Blvd., and the developers hoping to cash in on all of this love. Add a town government ready for a bigger tax base with the desire to stop urban sprawl toward Awendaw and you have a perfect storm for a classic “us against them” fight.
Everything started nicely enough: improve the way Coleman Blvd. looks, encourage developers to invest in the town, and more people get to live their Mt. Pleasant dream. Sounds good, right? As The Boulevard apartment complex and the Earl’s Court development became reality, the distressed cries started. Things didn’t turn out as well as they looked on paper.
The most common complaints are that The Boulevard’s 4-story structure is too tall, it is too close to Coleman Blvd., pedestrians have to cross the busy street, and the biggest issue: where are all of these people going to park? Next, add the Earl’s Court debacle where one house in the development actually touches the sidewalk and parking for those narrow little houses doesn’t really exist. The battle flag went up!
Most recently, the topic of discussion is how the overlay plan should be altered. Residents would like to see developers offer 2 off-street parking spots per unit, eliminate one-way streets for future developments, reduce the number of homes per acre, and extend the setback from 5 feet to 20 feet. The developers are fighting back and will probably continue planning for one-way streets. The residents made it clear that none of the developers live in Mt. Pleasant, and that first and foremost, the loyalty of our town government should be with its residents. The developers hold out the carrot of greater tax revenues, an age of old story.
I live in this area and believe that it’s time for some compromise to ensure that Mt. Pleasant, The Old Village, and Shem Creek remain the fun and quirky places that they are, while acknowledging that some growth and change is inevitable.
Please attend the next meeting about this development on April 8th at 6pm in council chambers. This debate won’t be over anytime soon and I personally hope that there will be no more developments with the density of Earl’s Court. Let’s grow, but let’s expand in a way that respects the community and tax payers who have made Mt. Pleasant one of the hottest residential spots in Charleston.
– Vannessa Carter, Realtor®