Public input session

People who attended open house sessions in West Ashley wrote down their visions for the old Piggly Wiggly site on slips of paper. Planners are working on crowd sourcing ideas for the location and will present their findings after July. Jesse Naranjo/Staff

City of Charleston designers spent the past two days hearing West Ashley residents' objectives for a former supermarket site's future and translating those ideas into designs. 

Development of the location where Piggly Wiggly stood until 2013 was prioritized in the West Ashley Master Plan. The city bought the 2½-acre space on Sam Rittenberg Boulevard and Old Towne Road for $3 million last August and the vacant building was demolished this spring.

Planners invited people to drop by open house sessions Tuesday and Wednesday at the Schoolhouse on Magnolia Road. Attendees wrote down their ideas on yellow slips of paper and got to sit with designers who drew corresponding designs onto paper. At Wednesday evening's West Ashley Revitalization Commission meeting the designs and handwritten proposals were displayed on a wall in the back.

"Through conversation with the person, we'd figure out, 'What does that mean?'" West Ashley Project Coordinator Eric Pohlman said after the meeting.

A presentation given by a planner displayed some of the feedback they'd received so far from an online survey.

The top uses for the space were identified by survey takers as small-scale retail, passive green space and restaurants. Many of the yellow slips mentioned a need for artistic space, roundabouts, parks and farmers markets.

However, there were also proposals urging the planners not to build playgrounds, public spaces or anything that would increase traffic. 

Many slips asked planners to prioritize fixing the roads at the nearby intersection, which has earned the nickname "suicide merge." The surrounding roads are owned by the state Department of Transportation and Charleston County will oversee their development.

Multiple commissioners said they'd like to prioritize those fixes so they could determine what else could be done with the space.

Some people were specific enough to note how many people they thought their vision should have capacity for and others simply wrote a couple of words on their slips of paper, such as "Olive Garden" or "Make it safer."

The public is still welcome to add ideas. The online survey is open through the month of July and can be accessed at:

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Reach Jesse Naranjo at 843-937-5764. Follow him on Twitter @jesselnaranjo.