College of Charleston plan for new North Campus would use site of current mobile home park
A plan to build a new North Campus building for the College of Charleston appears to be on the fast track toward approval in North Charleston, to the dismay of mobile home park residents who would be displaced by the project.
The college is on a tight schedule to relocate its North Campus and Lowcountry Graduate Center from the current location near the Charleston International Airport, by the end of July. Boeing Co. purchased the office complex on International Boulevard in December, and all the building’s tenants must find new space.
The college is pursuing a plan to lease a building that Holder Properties has proposed constructing on land adjacent to Interstate 526 and Dorchester Road. The properties, between Paramount Drive and Dorsey Avenue, include an unnamed mobile home park in which several dozen families reside.
“I have no idea what to do,” said resident Gabrielle McCulley, 20. “I’m pregnant, I’ve had heart surgery, and I don’t have a job.”
“It’s not easy to pick up and move,” she said, as neighbors gathered to discuss the plan Tuesday while a half-dozen young children played in the yard.
McCulley said she moved to the mobile home park in January, and just learned Monday that there are plans to sell and develop the land. Most residents there rent the homes they live in from park owners William and Margaret Altman.
“We’re having to move all of that out,” Margaret Altman said. “The people already know.”
“My husband and I are getting up in age, and we’re not in good health, so that’s why we’re selling it,” she said. “It’s up to them to find a new place.”
McCulley and several other residents had lots of complaints Tuesday about the condition of the mobile homes they rent, but none wanted to be forced to move quickly.
Resident Erika James said it appears the development plan has been in the works for most of this year.
“I never would have moved in here,” said James, who also moved in during January. “For me to just pick up and leave, I can’t do that.
But with the college needing a new building that would have to be constructed in time for fall classes, the project is on an accelerated path toward approval. North Charleston has scheduled a special City Council meeting Thursday just to vote on the zoning change needed for the plan.
College of Charleston spokesman Mike Robertson said the college was planning to lease 50,000 square feet of space from Holder Properties in a new building at 4105 Faber Place Drive, on the corner of Faber Place Drive and Leeds Avenue in North Charleston. The seven-year lease was expected to cost between $7.8 and $8.5 million. However, while the school was waiting for the plan to be approved, Holder rented the property to someone else, Robertson said.
So, the college now plans to lease space in a building Holder would construct. The state’s Joint Bond Review committee, which must approve the plan, will consider it at a meeting Wednesday.
Robertson said Holder would provide 50,000 square feet of space in the building with a seven-year lease costing $6.5 million. With operating costs, taxes and insurance, the property would cost the college $8.9 million — $400,000 more than the original plan for space.
Robertson said the college has a tight deadline to meet, so it must proceed with the plan as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The development plan is the latest of several recently proposed in North Charleston that would displace residents of mobile home parks. The largest of those plans shut down the Trailwood park, near the airport, which had been the site of 420 mobile homes.
More recently, a plan to build a shopping center on part of The Gables, on Patriot Boulevard, was withdrawn following opposition by residents and public officials.
Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.