Battery construction project shaking up the neighborhood

By Gregory Woods

CHARLESTON, S. C. (WCIV) -- As the sun sets along the Charleston Battery, couples enjoy the waterfront, joggers enjoy an evening run and families like the Vandermolen's enjoy the beauty of the Battery.

"Not a lot of places you go to nowadays have that historic charm, that simplistic beauty without all the skylines you normally see in a lot of big cities," said David Vandermolen, a local enjoying an evening at the Battery with his wife and daughter. "The parks are what really make it special, so doing whatever you can to preserve that is key to the city."

The families there will take the picturesque views -- even if that means construction equipment dotting the sky above the Battery and shaking the ground where their homes sit.

A new seawall support system will replace a nearly century-old wooden deck. The stairs leading to the walkway will feature handicap friendly ramps that connect the High Battery to the Low Battery.

It's all a part of a multi-million-dollar project to update The Charleston Battery, a historic site that hasn't had any real TLC since it was built.

The nine-month project began two months ago, and already neighbors like Mike Frederick, who has lived in the neighborhood for nearly 20 years and embraces the project, is ready for the construction to be done.

"It's annoying because our house vibrates because of the construction work that they are doing," said Frederick.

Frederick says houses in the neighborhood are old, and vibrations could lead to unwanted problems.

"These houses are old, historic houses and we are a little bit concerned about our foundation and cracks in the wall and so on. But the city has been fantastic as always, and I'm sure if there is a problem they'll take care of it," said Frederick.

Construction may temporarily shake up some locals, but for the Vandermolen's, it's just one more experience they get to share with their 1-year-old daughter.

"Preserving it for our little one to come down and experience some for the history that we've been able to experience and the fun, we want her to have the same thing," said Bethanne Vandermolen.

The work is being done by Crowder Construction Company and has been approved by the State Historic Preservation Office. In a Sept. 10 council meeting, members approved the $2.6 million renovations.

Other sections of the Battery, which is more than a mile long, will be renovated in the future.

It's the latest in an ongoing series of projects renovating city buildings and parks. In past decade, almost $200 million worth of such projects have been completed or undertaken.

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