In his annual State of the City address Mayor Keith Summey celebrated North Charleston as a growing, financially solid city that's home to Boeing's South Carolina operations, and accounts for more retail sales than any city in the state.
The half-hour pre-recorded video address did not announce any new initiatives or goals for the coming year, but Summey recapped several that are underway. Those include the city's plan to redevelop the Garco factory building near East Montague Avenue as a civic arts center, construction of a $42 million public works complex, and the effort to redevelop the area around Rivers and McMillan avenues.
Just last week the city sold the former Naval Hospital property at Rivers and McMillan, validating Summey's decision to buy the 24-acre site from the federal government in 2012 for $2 million. The city received $3 million Jan. 17 with $2 million more due in September.
The city is working with the same developer on a $4.2 million deal for the vacant site of the former Shipwatch Square shopping center, across Rivers Avenue from the hospital.
"Hopefully in the next nine months we will close out everything in that development plan," Summey said in his address. "It's a great opportunity to see something positive happening in the southern end of North Charleston."
Summey said the value of new construction in the city last year totaled $388 million, a 28 percent increase from the prior year, with most of the construction coming in commercial and retail projects. Certificates of occupancy were issued for 409 news homes, and permits for 1,900 apartments, some of which are under construction.
"People are interested in developing, and moving into the city of North Charleston," the mayor said.
City department heads and business leaders also appeared in the video, including Jack Jones, Boeing's general manager for South Carolina.
Jones said the city has a great working relationship with Boeing, and that the company, which has about 6,700 workers in North Charleston, will follow through on its promise to bring another 2,000 jobs to the area.
In July North Charleston changed its business license tax so that Boeing would pay no more than $1 million yearly.
The city has been working closely with Charleston County on road plans related to the Boeing facilities. Summey wants South Carolina to raise its tax on gasoline, in order to fund more road building and repairs.
Some of city's road plans, such as the extension of Northside Drive that's now underway, will also serve a massive new development, called Ingleside, between Interstate 26 and Palmetto Commerce Parkway. The city recently approved a tax incentive deal to lure Bass Pro Shops as the anchor tenant.
"We believe this is going to be a tourism draw for the community and a draw for the retail community as well," the mayor said in his address. "The hotel will be following, and coming with it."
The mayor also listed businesses that have created new jobs in the city, and the recreational programs and park upgrades the city undertook in 2013.
"The city hit it out of the park with the opening of Wescott Park," Summey said.
Also noted was the Fire Department's achievement of international accreditation, and the hiring of new police chief Eddie Driggers.
"We're doing everything we can to squash crime before it happens," Driggers said.
Summey said the city will continue to face challenges, but names few. He noted that the city is participating in an ongoing study of rail and road traffic related to the new port that will open on the former Navy Base.
"2013 was indeed a great year for the city, and we only see 2014 as being brighter," Summey said.
Reach David Slade at 937-5552