Continental Tire plans new center Facility would be at former Navy base

A planned Continental Tire warehousing facility on the former Charleston Naval Base abuts Saint Johns Avenue, a residential street in North Charleston. (Grace Beahm/

Continental Tire is planning a large storage and distribution facility at the north end of the former Charleston Naval Base, an area that’s been attracting residential redevelopment.

It’s an economic development project the state calls “Project Crescent,” but officials revealed Continental’s plan while seeking a zoning change from North Charleston.

The roughly 20-acre site currently is vacant industrial land owned by the S.C. Department of Commerce’s Division of Public Railways, which successfully asked the city to reclassify the property for heavy industry.

Residential property owners and developers near the site have had mixed reactions.

Raymond Sanders, a self-employed single parent who lives on Saint Johns Street, which abuts the Continental site, said he’d like to see the tire manufacturer come in and create jobs for local residents.

“If they’re going to be hiring, I’m sure they will want people who live nearby and are dependable,” he said, referring to himself. “I’m glad to see they’re going to utilize (the property).”

The developers of West Yard Lofts, an apartment building on the former base, adjacent to the Continental site, took the opposite view.

West Yard Lofts LLC, of Winston-Salem N.C., sent attorney Stephanie Roberts to a recent North Charleston Planning Commission meeting to object to the state’s request to rezone the tract for heavy industry.

A draft of the meeting minutes says Roberts “stated that her client would have never placed apartments there if the client would have known about the proposed heavy industrial rezoning.”

Another residential developer, Chris Swan, has been building single-family homes along Noisette Creek in a gated community called Hunley Waters.

Swan sees the Continental plan as a positive.

He said Monday that the tire manufacturer’s plan is “another example of all that is good happening in the area” with more jobs being created.

The Commerce Department and Continental did not respond Monday to requests for details.

Continental in 2011 announced plans for a $500 million plant in Sumter County, to be completed by 2017, and the North Charleston facility is associated with that plan, an attorney for the company has told city officials.

The project site was originally part of the Navy Yard at Noisette redevelopment plan, which called for a dense mix of residential and commercial redevelopment.

Much of the Noisette property went into foreclosure, however, and ended up in the state Commerce Department’s hands amid a heated dispute with North Charleston dealing with plans for a rail yard on the former base.

The rail dispute was settled in late 2012, with the city regaining ownership of most of the north end of the base property, except for the site Continental plans to use.

The property has warehouse buildings in place and rail service.

The West Yard Lofts apartments sits on the southern edge of that property, historic Navy officers’ housing is to the east, and historic naval hospital facilities are to the west.

At the opposite end of the former base, a new Port of Charleston container shipping terminal is under construction and expected to open in 2018. A new rail yard in the center of the former base will serve the new port, as well as existing terminals.

For Continental, with its planned manufacturing facility in Sumter scheduled to open a year before the new port terminal, the planned facility in North Charleston would be right at the heart of developing port and rail infrastructure.

The company is expected to store raw materials and finished products at the base site.

Continential is among several tire manufacturers that have announced expansion plans in the Upstate.

Reach David Slade at 937-5552.