The Horizon Project Foundation has picked Atlanta-based Gateway Development Services Inc. to oversee a proposed $1 billion redevelopment on the Charleston peninsula’s west side.
The Horizon board, composed of city and MUSC officials, chose Gateway over Greenville-based Hughes Development Corp., affirming a committee recommendation, during its meeting Wednesday morning, according to Michael Maher, director of the city’s Civic Design Center and chairman of the Horizon selection committee.
The next step, Maher said, is for Horizon’s operations committee to hammer out a memorandum of understanding with Gateway on how to proceed with the envisioned landmark project.
If, for some reason, that negotiation doesn’t work out, Horizon would move on to Hughes, but “we are all certainly very optimistic” about a deal with Gateway, Maher said.
“Given that we’ve already developed what we think is a mutually beneficial term sheet template, negations should go positively,” he said.
Maher was careful to praise the Hughes group’s track record and capabilities, but said “I think there was a sense that Gateway’s proposed term sheet was more in alignment with the goals and objectives of the Horizon Project Foundation.”
A Horizon delegation visited projects completed by both candidate developers in March. Maher said Gateway’s Centergy mixed-use research-centered cluster of buildings near Georgia Tech in Atlanta “certainly was a strong exemplary project for them to put before us.”
Hughes’ body of work, such as the Next Innovation Center, is mainly in Greenville where it has contributed to the downtown makeover there.
Delayed for years by the recession and other hurdles, the Horizon project 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.
Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906 and follow him on Twitter at @kearney_brendan.