North Charleston and school district have big plans for blighted Chicora area
It’s not much to look at right now — boarded up trailer homes, a shuttered school, and a big empty field.
But the properties in North Charleston’s Chicora neighborhood are slated for something big, and the wheels of government are turning.
The city has now cleared the final hurdles for signing a long-planned land deal with the Charleston School District that will put a new $28 million elementary school with services for the community where boarded-up homes buildings now stand, on Rivers Avenue at Success Street.
The city has been buying out the property owners for several years, acquiring the last few properties in November. Having paid $1.7 million for the land, the city will give the property to the school district. In exchange, the city will get the historic Chicora Elementary School building, located several blocks away.
North Charleston may renovate the historic part of the building for senior housing.
The two governments are drafting the land-swap paperwork now. The new school could be open for the start of classes in the fall of 2015.
“This is a major milestone,” said Bill Lewis, the school district’s chief operating officer. “It shows that the governments are working together to do something pretty innovative.”
The city and school district plan to share a new campus that will include the existing Military Magnet High School, the new Chicora school, recreation fields, parking, and a new North Charleston fire station. The idea is to tie those elements together, with the schools and city sharing not only recreation fields, but the buildings, where community activities can take place after school hours.
“These are all components of trying to stimulate the neighborhood and get some things happening there,” said Ray Anderson, special assistant to North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey.
Read more in an upcoming edition of The Post and Courier. Follow David Slade on Twitter @DSladeNews.