Promoting Sustainable Growth and Development by Design

The Charleston population is growing fast and pressure for new construction has reached a fever pitch. By standing up for high-quality, compatible development, we are committed to ensuring that the city’s growth does not threaten our fragile, historic environment.

Sustainable Growth and Development by Design

Advocacy for Charleston

Intense pressure for new, large-scale development is impacting every major city in America, and Charleston is no exception. The rapid Charleston population growth requires added vigilance to promote sustainable development patterns and preservation of the city’s unique architectural character. The community must work together to ensure Charleston doesn’t become “Anywhere, USA.”

Charleston has long been a pioneer in historic preservation. In 1931, urged by the Preservation Society, the City passed the nation’s first zoning ordinance to protect historic buildings. For nearly a century, our Board of Architectural Review has been a model for cities around the country, tasked with reviewing applications for demolitions, alterations, and new construction within an area covering over 1,000 acres.

Yet, Charleston’s desirability in the modern era has wrought major new challenges. City boards and commissions tasked with managing growth are inundated with requests that are ever-increasing in size and complexity. In the last several years, there has been a noted uptick in proposals that are incompatible with environmental realities and the character Charleston has fought to sustain for over 100 years.

The Preservation Society’s vision for growth puts the responsibility on developers to demonstrate how their project contributes to our unique historic city. The focus of our land-use policies must be on creating a city that works for people, embracing humanistic and resilient design, not simply whatever will most profitably expand the tax base.

Our success will be measured by the following commitments to promote thoughtful growth that advances the long-term best interest of our city:

Urge local leaders to make responsible land-use decisions

Consistent with the legacy of our organization, a key pillar of the PSC’s advocacy is to shape land use approvals of major consequence in Charleston. Our Advocacy Staff has strong expertise in local land use policy and the capacity to mobilize our membership when core values are threatened by short-sighted projects. We work adamantly to defend elected and appointed leadership when they uphold these values, and we are not afraid to lob a challenge when they get it wrong.

Save places of significance

The impacts of growth extend far beyond the boundaries of the Charleston peninsula and we act to save threatened historic sites throughout the region. In all of our work, we aim to be solution and partnership-oriented. We align with efforts that have a tangible impact on sites, but also educational value, particularly for revealing stories that have been underrepresented in traditional narratives of Charleston’s history.

Create and defend policies that protect historic places

We are recognized as a leader in advancing legislation and policy to enhance stewardship of historic and cultural resources throughout the Lowcountry. Through detailed legal research and mapping efforts we are able to make the case when policies need to be changed or expanded. We also take action when the law is violated in pursuit of short-term interests. The Preservation Society maintains a legal defense fund to serve as a check on bad practice to ensure fairness for those who play by the rules.

PSC Advocacy to Support Sustainable Development

African American Settlement Communities

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Preservation is a Movement

Join the Movement

We’re dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of Charleston’s distinct character, quality of life, and diverse neighborhoods. Joining the Preservation Society of Charleston is the best way to support our work on Charleston’s growth and development.

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