In the near future, the Sergeant Jasper Apartments will be razed, and that is when the real legal battle will begin. Down-zoning the Sergeant Jasper property will activate what is known as “South Carolina’s taking statue.”
That means the city and its lawyers will begin the process of figuring out what it would cost the city to buy this building and the surrounding property from the Beach Company. The company, on the other hand, is likely lawyering up just in case the city chooses to go all the way to the Supreme Court. Either way: Lawyers win — taxpayers lose.
I have a modest proposal. The two sides should sit down and figure out what the Beach Company would agree to, should the city (under friendly terms) agree to condemn this property. The condemnation should only be considered under one condition and that condition is: On this piece of dirt, one of the nicest parks on the East Coast will arise. Landscape architects should be brought in for ideas. The finalist should be submitted to the residents of the peninsula for final approval.
A small area of marsh and a small tidal creek already exist on site, and the creek could be improved to flow into and out of Colonial Lake. I think the possibilities for this little waterway are unlimited.
The Colonial Lake project should be stopped and its current design be incorporated into the new park’s overall design. Signature paving bricks like those on King Street could be sold to help pay for the park’s cost and could be used on Ashley Avenue to promote walking and biking. The south end of Barre Street might even be closed for additional park space. The tennis courts and the ball fields should be relocated elsewhere on the property. Trees, fountains and old statues could be placed along the new walking paths. While small, this new park could be as nice as New York’s Central Park.
The southeast end of the city has High Battery and Washington Park. What does the southwest end of the city have? Not much. Opportunities like this don’t come around but once in a lifetime. I hope the city and the Beach Company will consider the possibilities of creating a world-class city park on this location before the legal action begins.
We’ve seen these residents rise up in anger about what they don’t like; let’s see what they can do for something they just might like and want in their neighborhood. The possibilities are endless but the time is not.
Register of Mesne