The massive Ingleside Plantation development in North Charleston could set the precedent for future large projects in the city.
That’s what developers and city officials discussed during a workshop Friday.
Developers of the largely undeveloped 1,760-acre tract near U.S. Interstate 26 and Highway 78 are looking to move forward with city planning approvals, but not before seeking changes in North Charleston’s current planned development district zoning to complement such a large development that will take shape over decades.
The property is owned by an affiliate of Germany’s Weber Automotive, which has a manufacturing plant in Summerville.
“This is a long-term, 15- to 20-year project, that needs a lot flexibility to react to the markets and grow,” said Steve Dudash of North Charleston engineering firm Davis & Floyd.
Ingleside is a multi-phase mixed-use development project that could house retail, office, hotel and residential and take at least two decades to complete.
Owners unveiled the plans in 2008, touting it as an ambitious project looking beyond the recession that had slowed the real estate market.
The first phase of the project was estimated to cost $250 million and include more than 1 million square feet of developed land for retail space, offices, hotels and residential units.
City officials have lauded the project as one of the largest of its kind in South Carolina and a major piece in its attempt to coin itself the state’s top retail sales center.
The proposed amendment to the planned development district includes less micromanaging and more flexibility for projects of 1,000 acres or more.
The current ordinance requires detailed plotting of streets, sewage and other specifics that developers say would be hard to do with large-scale projects that take shape over many years.
“This gives them some flexibility,” said Gwen Moultrie, the city’s interim zoning manager. “Under the existing ordinance, if they were to have to change something other than a shift in the road, it would have to come back for approval.”
Friday’s workshop was one of several information sessions for developers.
Councilman Bobby Jameson voiced concern about the 1,000-acre threshold of the ordinance, saying the change should include some smaller projects.
“The city does not have a lot of tracts with 1,000 acres,” he said. “If we are going to make a change to an ordinance, then why don’t we make a change to an ordinance that will help the city ... How about making it 200 or 500 acres.”
Developers will also meet with the planning commission. City Council could vote on the ordinance change early next year.
Friday’s workshop was also a chance to unveil some updates such as bridge access over the railroad line that goes through the heart of the development and 25 acres of the project dedicated for school space.
Developers also are seeking to build another phase to the existing Ingleside Plantation Apartments on Blue House Road, according to documents filed with the state.
Eric Meyer, president of Weber USA, the real estate arm of Weber Automotive, could not be reached for comment Friday.
Reach Tyrone Richardson at 843-937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.