Long sought transportation hub coming to North Charleston

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey

The city of North Charleston has agreed to take over and build a $14 million intermodal transportation center project that has had problems getting off the ground.

The project was started by the city and has been in the works since the 1990s, Mayor Keith Summey said.

The $14 million project will include a 20,000 square foot building that will serve passenger trains, local and regional buses, taxis and limousines. In the future, it could be expanded to serve light rail and other alternative forms of transportation.

The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority board voted unanimously in March to ask the city of North Charleston to take over and build the Gaynor Avenue center.

The project has been scaled back from 33,000 square feet and plans for additional office, retail and restaurant space have been dropped, Summey said.

In 2007, ground was broken for the center on West Montague Avenue on land owned by CARTA. Improvements were made at the site, but work came to a halt over concerns that an Amtrak station would impede freight rail traffic at CSX’s nearby Bennett Yard.

CARTA then proposed selling the West Montague property and moving the project to the Amtrak station on Gaynor Avenue.

Last week, CARTA sold the 36 acres on West Montague to Rushmark Properties for $6.5 million. CARTA bought the property in 2002 for $2.04 million.

The current Amtrak station doesn’t offer a good first impression to people arriving in the area, Summey said.

The project is being funded by federal and local sources. About $6 million will come from a federal grant from the Federal Transit Administration, $1.7 million is on-hand from Charleston County and $4.7 million will come from the sale of CARTA’S West Montague property. The city of North Charleston will cover the balance, about $1 million, from tax increment funding, Summey said.

Construction could begin in December, and the building will be completed early 2017.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.