The push to deepen the Charleston Harbor deepening project continues today with a VIP.

Make that a VP.

This time, it’s Vice President Joe Biden, who’s scheduled to be on the peninsula to talk port infrastructure and exports.

The second-in-command’s visit to the State Ports Authority’s Columbus Street Terminal marks the second leg in a three-city East Coast port tour that started last week at the Port of Baltimore.

Biden also plans to visit the Port of Savannah today.

Like several other East Coast ports, Charleston and Savannah are seeking federal funding to deepen their harbors in order to accommodate the supersize ships from an expanded Panama Canal.

President Barack Obama included Savannah and Charleston last year on a list of port-deepening projects worthy of expediting.

But Washington has had trouble finding money for such projects amid budget battles focused on cutbacks and deficit reduction.

Last week, Biden headed up to Baltimore to award a $10 million federal grant to help improve its port’s productivity by widening waterway access to its harbor.

In South Carolina, the SPA wants to deepen Charleston’s shipping channel to 50 feet. The $350 million project is being studied by the Army Corps of Engineers, and the dredging could be completed as early as 2019.

Coincidentally, the Army Corps recently announced it’s expanding the scope of its review by studying the feasibility of taking the harbor to one of three depths: 48, 50 and 52 feet.

Previously, the agency was focusing on 50 feet. The final depth will be announced after further analysis and public meetings.

A draft report is expected next summer.


Demolition has started and pilings are being driven, but the ground-breaking ceremony for one of downtown Charleston’s most ambitious redevelopment projects will officially launch the long-awaited Midtown project.

Officials with Regent Partners of Atlanta and Charleston-based CC&T Real Estate Services along with other dignitaries will grab the ceremonial shovels at 11 a.m. Tuesday at 556 King St. to turn some dirt, officially kicking off the $80 million hotel and retail complex on 2.4 acres at King and Spring streets.

The project will include a 10-story, dual-branded Hyatt House and Hyatt Place hotel with 304 guest rooms, retail shops and a seven-story, 403-vehicle parking deck. All told, Midtown will include four new structures and two renovated buildings for a total of 433,000 square feet.

The developers expect construction to be completed by mid-2015.

This room’s a wreck

Pop singer Miley Cyrus snared her share of eyeballs thanks to her racy “Wrecking Ball” video last week.

Perhaps that was all it took to draw attention away from the literal piece of demolition equipment that paid a visit to a shuttered Masters Inn in Mount Pleasant.

A crew began leveling the two-story building a week ago today. The structure was all but razed by Friday.

The 119-room budget lodging stood at Wingo Way and McGrath Darby Boulevard, near the base of the Ravenel Bridge, for about 27 years. It closed June 1.

A Charleston development group plans to put a 133-room Hilton Garden Inn on the site. The six-story hotel is scheduled to open around mid-2014. The Hilton will include a meeting room, outdoor event space and an elevated patio pool.

It’s a tie

The Gamecocks couldn’t beat those Bulldogs from Athens on the football field, but South Carolina managed to tie Georgia in a new business ranking.

South Carolina earned a second-place ranking among the top states for key site selection criteria, according to Area Development magazine’s recent survey. It tied with Georgia for second overall in meeting key location requirements.

“Numerous world-class companies like BMW, Boeing, Continental, Bridgestone and Michelin understand that South Carolina knows what companies need in order to do well here,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in statement.

Area Development surveyed a group of site consultants who are hired by companies to vet potential expansion locations.

Those hired guns were asked to name their top picks in a long list of categories, including the costs of doing business, taxes, labor quality, incentives and government cooperation.

The Palmetto State was tops for its certified shovel-ready sites and right-to-work environment. It also was among the top five picks in cost of doing business, corporate tax environment and nine other categories.

Overall, Texas was No. 1. The rest of the top 10, after South Carolina and Georgia, in descending order were Alabama, North Carolina, Louisiana, Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi and California.