Joe Riley Waterfront Park

Joe Riley Waterfront Park would be extended by 400 feet to the north and front a luxury hotel (above) that a developer plans to build at 176 Concord St. in downtown Charleston. Provided rendering

Federal regulators have issued the final approval for a plan to extend Joe Riley Waterfront Park to a portion of the State Ports Authority property next door, the city said Wednesday.

The "River Walk" project will make an additional 400 feet of land along Charleston Harbor accessible to the public.

Work is expected to begin later this year and be completed by 2021. The expansion of the city's most-visited park will start at the north entrance to the the property on Concord Street and end at Cumberland Street. That area will include elevated plazas and a marina for an existing water taxi service and the public.  

State regulators approved the project earlier this year.

The city is working on the deal with Lowe, a national real estate development firm that bought the neighboring SPA headquarters last year for $38 million. The Los Angeles-based company plans to replace the existing office building at 176 Concord St. with a 225-room luxury waterfront hotel that will include retail space, a restaurant and other amenities.

The ports authority is scheduled move out by the end of the year to a building that's under construction at the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant.

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“When Waterfront Park rose along the banks of the Charleston Harbor nearly three decades ago, it was an extraordinary gift not just to our visitors, but to our citizens as well – a truly remarkable public space to visit, to enjoy, to share with family and friends," Mayor John Tecklenburg said in a written statement. "Now, with Lowe’s planned expansion moving forward, Charlestonians will be able to access and experience even more of this priceless public treasure in the years ahead.”

Dan Battista, Lowe's senior vice president of development, said the one of company's goals "is to create signature experiences that encourage public access at its properties, so we are thrilled to clear this hurdle and to begin preparing the site for the park expansion." 

Locally, Lowe also owns Wild Dunes Resort on the Isle of Palms. 

Contact John McDermott at 843-937-5572 or follow him on Twitter at @byjohnmcdermott