Jasper mediation ends in an impasse

Talks recently failed to reach a consensus about what should be built on the site of the Sergeant Jasper apartment building.

The second attempt to mediate the dispute over Charleston’s Sergeant Jasper development ended the same as the first: with no deal.

For more than three days, officials with The Beach Co., the city of Charleston, and neighborhood and preservation groups tried to find an acceptable plan for redeveloping the Broad Street site, which currently features a 14-story apartment building many consider an eyesore.

Those talks ended Tuesday when mediator Tom Traxler declared an impasse, city spokesman Jack O’Toole said.

The Beach Co. CEO John Darby noted Mayor John Tecklenburg campaigned against the Sergeant Jasper and other mediation participants opposed all previous plans.

“Realistically, the deck was stacked against resolution,” he said. “The impasse is disappointing, but it is not really surprising.”

The dissolution of mediation likely marks the end of Plan B, a compromise plan that involved razing the Sergeant Jasper and replacing it with several new, lower buildings that would have 350 residential units plus retail and office space and a parking garage. The property known as St. Mary’s Field would have become a public park.

The lack of an agreement means that any redevelopment must go through the city’s public processes — and not just a City Council vote, which might have happened with a mediated deal.

The neighborhood and preservation groups involved released a joint statement saying, “While we had hoped a compromise could be reached, we continue to believe that all the citizens of Charleston should have the meaningful opportunity to comment on development projects in their communities.”

An earlier attempt to mediate the dispute ended in the fall with no deal, and Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson recently ordered the parties to try mediation once more. O’Toole noted the court rules prohibit any of the parties from discussing publicly what was said at the private talks.

Nicholson could issue a ruling soon on whether the city’s Board of Architectural Review erred when rejecting a plan to replace the Sergeant Jasper with a building of similar size.

“Despite the differences of opinion, we tried very hard to come to a positive resolution,” Darby said Tuesday, adding the company will wait on the judge’s ruling.

The Beach Co. also could proceed with its plans to renovate and reopen the 159-foot-tall building and build new office and retail structures nearby.

The city has more at stake than just one development site, however. The company’s lawsuit also claims that Charleston’s 1931 ordinance creating the BAR is unconstitutional.

Reach Robert Behre at 843-937-5771 or at twitter.com/RobertFBehre.