In the May 19 Post and Courier Robert Behre reported on the Planning Commission’s May 18 meeting about the Sergeant Jasper project, in which he incorrectly stated that the city Planning Department did not have any recommendations regarding the proposed zoning change for height in that district.
We did make a recommendation that the Planning Commission leave the current 3X height district in place.
The Sergeant Jasper site is a unique property, unlike any other in our historic district. First, it has a history that includes the current building on the site — an unattractive, non code-compliant 14-story building.
Also, it is located on Broad Street, one of our primary streets, and it is larger than any surrounding property. Finally, it sits amongst abundant park space. Combined with its size, this creates the opportunity to have even more greenspace through proper design and development.
One of the great challenges that Charleston faces is deciding how downtown can grow in a balanced way as the region around it also grows. We should make optimal use of the Sergeant Jasper site and build more densely on this property.
We also believe that primarily residential use is best on this site — including some lower cost housing.
The question is how to design something that Charlestonians will be proud of 50 years from now. I believe that the 3X district can be used to design such a place. The initial proposal for the site reduced the height for the buildings substantially. Unfortunately, this design also covered most of the available land.
A reduced height will mean shorter, squattier buildings, consuming most of the site. This is a pattern prevalent in suburbs all over the country. While it may be acceptable in many places, it is not what is best for downtown Charleston.
A taller tower would best suit this site, which would allow for a better streetscape and provide more open space. As long as the new Sergeant Jasper is beautiful, the height will become an enhancement of the skyline — something we all enjoy seeing.
Planning, Preservation and Sustainability
City of Charleston