New eco-friendly district topic of public meeting

An 865-acre district carved out of Charleston's upper peninsula to drive green growth with urban development will be the subject of a public meeting Thursday.

The city will discuss recommendations for the Upper Peninsula Initiative, an area east of Interstate 26 from Lee to Milford streets, and gather input from residents, property owners and those who work along the Morrison Drive corridor.

About 30 percent of the area is undeveloped, allowing for future growth as more people flock to the Holy City.

"The Upper Peninsula Initiative represents a fabulous opportunity to allow for the needed expansion of the peninsula's employment base and opportunities for further residential and neighborhood retail development," Mayor Joe Riley said. "We look forward to working with the public as we further develop the plans for this area."

Because of the development already occurring there, organizers want to make sure places are set aside to accommodate the surge of people expected in the area over the next decade or so.

At least one high-rise hotel and a new housing development have been announced for the area, which includes the base of the Ravenel Bridge at East Bay Street and Morrison Drive.

The peninsula's population is expected to nearly double over the next 15 to 20 years, according to Tim Keane, Charleston's director of planning, preservation and sustainability. As of the last census, it stood at 34,636.

Growth and development are predicted to continue in the area, and the city wants to steer denser development to the district as the area transitions from its heavy industrial and commercial roots to modern work places, retail shops, restaurants and more housing.

The city wants recommendations and participation from residents and business owners to weave together community assets with creative ideas and innovative projects to build a strong sense of place in a vibrant community.

Some businesses are already incorporating roofs planted with flowers and using reclaimed wood as part of the green initiative. Though it's not being mandated, the city wants to encourage developers to use sustainable methods as they plan housing and businesses in the area.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or