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Plans for Redevelopment of West Ashley Gain Traction

aerial view of West Ashley

West Ashley’s hopes to redevelopment along the Sam Rittenberg Boulevard corridor may be gaining some traction. The Post & Courier reports that the Charleston City Council has plans in September to approve a special tax district to raise as much as $69 million for road work, drainage and other improvements along the Sam Rittenberg Boulevard corridor. The Council also plans to appoint members of a new West Ashley Revitalization Commission to provide input into future development plans.

Councilman Bill Moody, who represents part of this West Ashley region told the newspaper that “It’s like a snowball rolling downhill gaining momentum.” Plans to improve West Ashley have been under discussion for years among Charleston County Council members. Until now, Mr. Moody said “it was just dreaming.”

Jacob Lindsey, the city’s planning director, said that the council is reviewing a plan for a tax-increment financing district or TIF, which would include commercial properties from the Ashley Landing shopping center to the Citadel Mall, along Sam Rittenberg Boulevard. The city would borrow money to improve the roads and other priorities designated for infrastructure improvement, then tax new businesses that move in the area to increase revenue. Lindsey said that “this is the first TIF entirely off the peninsula the city has ever created,” and shows a renewed commitment to revitalize the region.

Lindsey said the city council chose Sam Rittenberg Boulevard for improvements “because that’s the part of West Ashley we feel holds the most potential for redevelopment.” Savannah Highway would not generate as much revenue from redevelopment since it already has a successful commercial area such as the groups of automobile dealerships along that corridor.

A local resident watchdog group, West Ashley United supports the TIF, and is keeping abreast of future plans by the West Ashley Revitalization Commission. Mayor John Tecklenberg will appoint the 19 members to the commission, as it considers development for this special tax district.  The city also hopes that Charleston County, Charleston County School District and the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission will participate in the plan and give up a portion of new tax revenue in the district, reports the Post & Courier. These decisions will be made by the end of this year.

Source: Post & Courier, “Dream Taking Shape,” by Diane Knich, August 5, 2016

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