A place for everything, and everything in its place.
And Charleston is still a place where you’d better not try to build anything in what lots of locals deem the wrong place.
So besieged by objections that what The Beach Company wants to build on its Sergeant Jasper property is out of place, some folks from that thriving enterprise came to this newspaper Wednesday to plead their case.
President/CEO John Darby, grandson of company founder J.C. Long, defended the Jasper plan as a worthy “legacy asset” on land owned by his family since 1949.
Among Darby’s contentions:
He has been “shocked” that “scary and confusing” misinformation has turned so many people against the plan.
The latest and most dramatic manifestation of that widespread opposition came last week when an overflow crowd showed up for a City Planning Commission hearing on the project. The Charleston County School Board meeting room’s capacity of 200 wasn’t nearly enough. That forced a postponement until March 16 at a larger venue — the Burke High School auditorium.
He said the company chose to go through the Planned Unit Development process even though it didn’t have to — and has already made concessions to address concerns about the project.
He said the idea of adding a grocery store came not from the company but from a neighborhood task force.
He said the company will not agree to a piecemeal overhaul of the proposal: “We think it’s a great plan, but it’s not a shopping list. Everything’s connected.”
And you need not be an expert in property development — or property rights — to connect the dots of this point made by Darby:
If the PUD is rejected, “we have very flexible zoning” already in place.
As for concerns that the project would intensify motor vehicle traffic, DesignWorks co-founder Scott Parker, who’s working with The Beach Company on the plan, offered this counter-argument:
“The more people living there, the less people will be driving to work.”
Before dismissing that notion as scary and confusing, consider Parker’s expert assertion that residents of the new Jasper would be within walking and biking distance of the medical district, the King-Broad business district and the College of Charleston.
Keep in mind, too, that lots of young people are looking for places to live downtown — and that the younger you are, the less likely you are to be stuck in what Parker called the car-centric “suburban mentality.”
OK, so rents at the new Jasper would be beyond the reach of many people, especially young ones.
Still, Parker made a persuasive pitch that the project would enhance pedestrian access where it’s now lacking on the lower peninsula of what is “a great walking city.”
And a slide show with images of the project displayed impressively wide “promenades” along with some inviting “open spaces.”
Then again, the images of the buildings, though only four stories along the street and another three higher in just one place atop the middle of one of them, looked, well ... big.
And Darby didn’t exactly sound confident about overcoming the challenging clamor awaiting him at that March 16 Planning Commission do-over hearing.
However, Darby did cite this somewhat stoic benefit of that looming showdown:
“Something’s going to happen that night, and either way, we get clarity.”
And just in case you aren’t clear on that, remember what Darby said about that “flexible zoning” already in place.
Yet rather than taking either side in this increasingly testy land-use debate, this column now suggests a shift in focus.
Fairly or not, lower peninsula dwellers are often accused of being, well, snooty.
So ponder creative Jasper alternatives that could attract a more blue-collar crowd — and not just to live there.
A go-cart track would give youngsters valuable driving lessons — yes, some of them will still grow up to be drivers.
A miniature golf course would add family fun and highlight Charleston’s history in the mind game (getting that ball in the hole) that irrationally grips and warps so many otherwise seemingly balanced minds.
A tattoo parlor would expand our city’s artistic horizons while drawing an eclectic, even exotic, clientele.
A pawn shop would give folks at the Jasper — and their neighbors — a walking-distance destination where they could hock their silver.
A motorcycle dealership would give customers the scenic delights of test drives along The Battery.
A shooting range would be a hot spot for the armed civilian legions aiming to save our endangered Second Amendment rights.
A strip mall that would be limited, as most are, to one story could counter objections about building height.
But please, no strip club.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is email@example.com.