Advocacy Update // Union Pier Redevelopment Advances
Preservation-Society , April 1, 2020
Published April 1, 2020
As the Carnival Sunshine remains docked at the State Ports Authority’s (SPA) Columbus Street Terminal just north of Union Pier due to the COVID-19 pandemic, community conversation is steadily increasing around the need for shore power, stronger environmental regulations, and better public health practices. While the community is focusing back in on this issue, the Preservation Society and our cruise coalition partners have been focusing on it for a decade. The Sunshine’s presence highlights the ongoing challenge of hosting cruise ships in Charleston and the redevelopment of Union Pier presents an opportunity for better management of the cruise industry’s impacts on our city.
With the potential to be one of the most impactful waterfront projects on the entire eastern seaboard, Union Pier is at the forefront of the PSC’s advocacy focus. The SPA is embarking on the process to explore new uses for the 63-acre site ahead of selling the property for redevelopment. Earlier this month, the SPA announced an agreement with Lowe Enterprises to oversee the Union Pier entitlement process which will include master planning, design development, and community engagement phases. Lowe was also the developer for the recently approved 225-room Cooper Hotel that will occupy the former SPA office site at 176-178 Concord Street.
The PSC recognizes the tremendous opportunity at hand to develop the property with long-term community benefit, and likewise, the incredible risk if executed insensitively. We are already in conversations with the SPA and Lowe and are encouraged by this initial dialogue. As Union Pier progresses, the PSC will work to keep the community engaged while ensuring best outcomes for this important waterfront site through contextual and resilient design solutions.