The authority purchased numerous parcels and combined them to come up with the current footprint, Executive Director Jim Edwards said. He thinks the entire property cost about $500,000.
That figure includes the cost of demolishing structures on the property, he said.
The authority currently leases the space, which is used as a parking lot for the Garnet Career Center and a nearby funeral home, for about $860 per month, according to figures provided by Edwards. The lease agreement was made with the understanding the property could be developed at any time, Edwards said.
The plan did not pass unquestioned, although the sale price was approved unanimously. Charleston Councilman Cubert Smith, who represents an East End ward, said the community might be better served by a green space.
Edwards responded by saying the city's consultant on the downtown revitalization plan, MKSK, had looked at the property and suggested a mixed-use building that incorporated green space.
"What's being proposed is almost the same as what the consultants suggested," Edwards said.
Smith also questioned how the completed project would affect traffic.
The building would not affect streets in the vicinity as much as other potential uses, Edwards said. That is because the facility would house people 55 and older.
"They tend to not drive as much as others," he said.
Smith also pointed out that the site is in the middle of a block that has been designated as a historic area for African Americans.
The block served as a hub for African Americans who were moving through the area in the early 1900s, he said.
Upon leaving the meeting, Smith said he was unsure if the project would be beneficial to the neighborhood. The plot of land sits in a ward adjacent to his.
The ward representative, Democrat Robert Sheets, had asked Smith to attend the meeting and ask questions because Sheets could not do so.
"I don't have anything against housing, and I don't have anything against progress, but as a councilman it's my job to ask questions," Smith said.
Turner hopes to begin construction this summer.
Board members also approved an amendment to the urban renewal plan for that area. The plan called for commercial redevelopment.
However, Wednesday's amendment stated that commercial and residential redevelopment is acceptable. This is consistent with what is already occurring in the area, Edwards said.
The Covenant House and Roark-Sullivan Lifeway Center operate in the area, and both offer institutional housing. There are also some houses in the area, Edwards said.
The authority also accepted $529,000 in Transportation Enhancement Grant funding from the state Division of Highways for a streetscape project along Washington Street West.
The project will run from Hunt Avenue to West Street, Edwards said. It will require a $120,000 match from the authority. The project will likely not get underway for about a year, he said.
Other Top Headlines