Advocacy

SAVE THE SMOKESTACKS

preservation-admin , October 2, 2020

The City of Charleston is asking City Council to approve more than $500,000 to fund the partial demolition of the c. 1935 St. Julian Devine Community Center smokestacks to 60ft. in height, citing concern for their structural stability during hurricane season.

The City has retained information on the structural condition of the smokestacks for years, yet suddenly is using the threat of hurricane season to demolish the smokestacks without community input or adherence to the City’s own ordinances, simply because City leadership does not want to spend the money to stabilize them. The Preservation Society and Historic Charleston Foundation have offered to help fundraise for this effort, which the City has repeatedly disregarded. Furthermore, preservation has been pitted against other priorities like funding for affordable housing or the Lowline, and members of Council have said that the smokestacks are not beautiful and not South of Broad, and therefore not worthy of preservation.

These structures are highly visible landmarks that serve as a tangible record of the area’s industrial past, and the residents of the Eastside, a neighborhood that has benefited little from the City’s recent prosperity, have said loudly that the smokestacks matter. It is not the role of Council to determine what the community values, and Council needs to hear from you to preserve this important piece of Eastside history.

Get up to speed on the latest discussion on the City’s proposal to partially demolish the smokestacks: advance to minute mark 21:25 of the September 22 Ways and Means Committee meeting.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • Tell your Council member:
    • Save the smokestacks: The smokestacks are important to the history of the Eastside neighborhood and are worth preserving at their full height
    • Slow down: The projected 60-day timeline for demolition would provide no protection or benefit for hurricane season—what’s the rush?
    • Invest: Use money available in the Cooper River TIF District Funds to cover the cost of fully preserving the smokestacks
    • Don’t pit preservation against affordability: Preservation and affordable housing should both be among the City’s highest priorities. The City has owned the smokestacks since their construction in the 1930s and should not be able to demolish them simply because they do not want to pay the price for their preservation.
  • Tune into the Ways and Means Committee meeting at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, October 13 to hear the full conversation
  • Speak up at City Council following Ways and Means on Tuesday, October 13
    • Sign up to speak during Citizens Participation at City Council via the City’s online public comment portal: http://innovate.charleston-sc.gov/comments/
    • You may also submit written comments using this platform. However, please note that the Clerk of Council will not read written responses aloud.
    • Watch live on the City of Charleston’s YouTube channel or call in via Conference Call (1-929-205-6099). The City Council meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:00 PM on Tuesday, October 13. However, if Ways and Means runs past 5:00 PM, City Council will begin once the committee meeting has ended.