- The construction activity on the lower portion of Riverland Drive is for the new athletic fields and complex being put together by downtown Charleston's First Baptist School.

Work crews began last month clearing the overgrown, 62-acre site, which long ago had served as a tomato field.

The school's immediate plans for the site include adding multiple ball fields for a variety of sports, and a gym and a fine-arts center. First Baptist has about 475 students in grades kindergarten through 12.

First Baptist bought the site, at the intersection of Riverland and George Griffith Boulevard, about six years ago for an estimated $2.7 million as part of its plans to incorporate athletic functions in one area.

The school also has ball fields on Fort Johnson Road. It sold its gymnasium in the Charleston City Market area this year.

Church Pastor Marshall Blalock said the goal is to have the project finished by September 2014.

"There is space for future school activity," he said.

Part of the current work includes earthquake-preparing the site. A lake also is being built.

Traffic isn't expected to be overly affected, but construction materials will be carried on site.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.