Reynolds Avenue has a lot of potential.
It’s a short, unassuming street in the often overlooked southern end of North Charleston. It also has the bones of a successful “Main Street” commercial corridor like those that were once ubiquitous but have too often been abandoned or paved over in favor of a more typical suburban development pattern.
And for years it has been lovingly and painstakingly brought back to life by dedicated visionaries who see what a thriving street can mean to a neighborhood.
It’s a bit cliché to suggest that they don’t build streets like Reynolds Avenue “like they used to.” But it’s frustratingly true. Building a similar street from scratch wouldn’t be allowed under North Charleston’s current zoning rules.
In other words, Reynolds Avenue is worth protecting. And residents of the surrounding community clearly agree.
Nearby residents and neighborhood and community groups working in the southern part of North Charleston stepped up a few months ago when an industrial company operating out of a property at the end of Reynolds Avenue asked city officials for permission to build a larger warehouse.
The original plan would have added a significant amount of large truck traffic onto an otherwise relatively quiet, walkable commercial street, which would have impacted an ongoing effort to revitalize Reynolds Avenue and the surrounding area.
The North Charleston Planning Commission rejected the proposal, but city officials suggested it was allowable under the zoning rules.
In too many cases, a problematic but otherwise permissible development proposal like the one for the Reynolds Avenue warehouse can lead to a nasty fight that leaves a lot of bad blood without really resolving the issues that upset neighbors in the first place.
That’s not what happened here, however.
The industrial property owners sat down with representatives of the community to hammer out a sensible compromise.
In exchange for building the new warehouse, its owners won’t let large trucks enter or exit its Reynolds Avenue entrance. They agreed to ask trucks not to drive down that street either. And they committed to giving an annual donation to Chicora Elementary School and making efforts to hire nearby residents for warehouse jobs.
Crucially, the deal is in writing and it gives neighborhood groups ways of holding the property owners accountable if the deal is broken. It also lets them make a first offer if the property comes up for sale in the future.
Ideally, industrial uses would be phased out of the southern end of North Charleston, which is geographically poised to flourish as the Charleston area grows.
But until then, the Reynolds Avenue compromise is an encouraging example of neighbors being good to one another and coming up with a mutually beneficial path forward. That kind of outcome ought to be much more common.