Charleston's long-delayed Horizon Project close to picking a developer

The Horizon District would cover empty land within the area of Fishburne Street, Lockwood Blvd., Hagood Ave and Spring Street.

Brad Nettles

Almost 10 months after issuing a request for proposals, the Horizon Project Foundation board will meet today to potentially pick a firm to oversee a proposed $1 billion redevelopment on the Charleston peninsula’s west side.

The choice is between Greenville-based Hughes Development Corp. and Atlanta-based Gateway Development Services Inc.

The board’s selection committee ranked the two finalists at a meeting Friday. Michael Maher, director of the city’s Civic Design Center and chairman of the Horizon selection committee, wouldn’t say which the panel favored.

He did say Tuesday that the board is likely go along with the selection committee’s recommendation and authorize its operations committee to begin negotiating with that first pick.

“I would expect that to happen,” said Maher, who is also a member of the operations committee but not the board. But, he added, “I never want to assume anything.”

Neither company returned calls for comment Tuesday.

A memorandum of understanding between Horizon and the master developer would provide the framework for the next steps in the process, including who will own the land and how the buildings will be funded, Maher said.

“It kind of lays out more of the road map of how to move forward to get the first phase of the property under way,” he said Tuesday.

Delayed for years by the recession and other hurdles, the Horizon pro- ject was revived last July with a request for proposals that drew six interested companies by the November due date.

The vision is to transform the largely empty area bounded by Lockwood Drive, Hagood Avenue and Fishburne and Spring streets, into some 2 million square feet of apartments, offices and research space over the next couple of decades. The city created a special tax district for the project in 2008 with the intention of raising money to pay for public roads, sidewalks and other utilities.

Maher said if negotiations with the first-choice developer don’t work out, the operations committee would likely turn its attention to the other company.