A federal judge has ruled a court challenge to South Carolina’s proposed $35 million cruise ship terminal should be heard in Charleston rather than Washington, D.C.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg says the suit is mainly local in nature involving Charleston, not the nation’s capital. Local environmental and preservation group sued in July, saying the case is of national importance and should be heard in Washington.

The suit seeks to invalidate an Army Corps of Engineers permit allowing the S.C. State Ports Authority to renovate a warehouse at the north end of Union Pier in downtown Charleston. The plaintiffs say there should be more federal review of how the terminal will affect the city’s historic district.

In ruling to transfer the case, Boasberg said public and private interests support hearing the case to Charleston where the terminal is planned. -

The SPA plans to revamp an existing structure to replace the existing, aging passenger building farther south, near the end of Market Street.

The proposed location has sparked opposition from the Coastal Conservation League, the Charleston Preservation Society and two peninsula neighborhood associations. They want the SPA to consider other sites, but the maritime state agency has said Union Pier is the best location for its cruise business.

If approved, the new passenger terminal is expected to be ready in the second half of 2013, or about nine months later than the previous estimate. The project has been delayed by design changes and the permitting process.

See Friday’s edition of The Post and Courier for more details.