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Charleston reconsiders its development options

GIVE Charleston credit. The city doesn't just drift; city leaders think ahead - to solve problems, anticipate needs, and improve the community for everyone who uses it.

As part of its effort to come up with a new comprehensive plan and a new downtown revitalization plan, the city proposes, among other things:

  • To redirect funds headed for the $20 million conversion of the old railroad trestle over the Kanawha River into a biking and walking route.
  • Instead, the city proposes to use the available funding for a bike path that would run from Patrick Street to Magic Island.

  • To create three mixed-use buildings between Quarrier and Lee streets from Leon Sullivan Way to Dickinson Street, as well as the site of the old Holley Hotel on Quarrier Street.
  • That effort would involve creation of about 100 new housing units on upper floors, commercial space on  ground floors, and construction of a parking garage.

  • To renovate Slack Plaza, narrow the Shonk Plaza building that houses Rio Grande Mexican restaurant, and make it possible to widen Brawley Walkway. That would create a more inviting corridor between the center of town and the mall and hotel district.
  • To create - eventually - a parking garage next to the Greek Orthodox Church on Quarrier Street, easing parking both for churchgoers and people attending activities at Slack Plaza.
  • To create a Professional Urban Core Management Authority, made up of property owners, to promote the area and perhaps to fund amenities not provided by the city.
  • Obviously, there are a lot of things for a lot of people to think about.

    But the one that sticks out to most people is probably the effort to redirect money away from the trestle project and into a bike path that would be a significant amenity for the West Side.

    The farsighted trestle project is not achievable in the short term. The city doesn't have the money for it.

    There is a $1.7 million congressional earmark, $760,000 secured by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, and about $400,000 in city funds. That won't advance a $20 million trestle project very much.

    The bike path, on the other hand, is very feasible.

    Here's hoping it works out.


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