Members of Charleston's Urban Renewal Committee unanimously approved a bill barring specific types of businesses from opening on the East End. The matter now goes to the full City Council.
The bill would prohibit strip clubs, adult bookstores, pawnshops, gambling parlors, gun shops and check-cashing establishments from opening along Washington Street East from Sidney to Morris streets.
"We're very excited about this," said Ric Cavender, executive director of East End Main Street. "It really is a giant step forward."
The bill has been in the works for about four months. Cavender said it would go far in protecting the $250 million businesses have invested in the East End, which he called the city's most economically diverse neighborhood.
He said the kinds of businesses in question tend to prey on low-income residents.
"We feel like this is a good blanket approach to defending them and protecting the businesses' investments," Cavender said.
City Councilman Robert Sheets, who represents the 10th Ward and serves on the committee, said the bill helps the neighborhood advance.
"We've got a lot of good businesses on the East End and this is taking it one step forward," Sheets said. "I think the new businesses will have a greater stake in what's going on in our community."
Existing businesses would be grandfathered in, according to the bill.