Preservation society raises questions about company's plans for Sergeant Jasper site

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Proposed plans for the Sergeant Jasper site in downtown Charleston include 454 apartments, a 35,000-square-foot grocery store, and a 700-car garage.

The planned development submitted by The Beach Company is drawing some complaints and a call to action from the Preservation Society of Charleston.

"If the Planned Unit Development is approved, long before the details of the project are fully flushed out and certainly long before any of the neighbors, residents and commuters will know what will be happening, the conversation will be cut off," the preservation society said in a 10-page statement.

The preservation society says by wrapping the entire project into the PUD proposal, the zoning board and planning commission will approve the project in one move.

The preservation society said its members are studying the PUD application, but are concerned that the public will not have the same opportunity because the documents are not yet on the city's website and are only available at the planning office on Calhoun Street.

According to the preservation society, the proposal calls for 454 residential units, 35,000 square feet of non-residential space, and approximately 700 parking spaces.

The group says the existing Sergeant Jasper space had 225 apartments, 17,000 square feet of business space, and 180 parking spaces.

The group says the 35,000 square feet of non-residential space would be for a grocery store "that may operate 24 hours a day." It's a concern for the preservation society because it could draw in people other than those immediately surrounding the property, the preservation society said.

"The Preservation Society believes that a 24-hour supermarket and 454 residential units will significantly and negatively impact the surrounding neighborhoods and further congest one of the primary vehicular arteries of the peninsula. We believe much of the traffic will be pushed into residential neighborhoods," officials said.

The preservation society went on to question how delivery trucks would make it into the area and handled once they arrive.

While The Beach Company is seeking to have the property designated as a PUD, the Preservation Society of Charleston says that's not allowed under the city's comprehensive Century V Plan.

The Preservation Society points out the Sergeant Jasper property sits between two historic neighborhoods, South of Broad and Harleston Village.

"The Society is strongly opposed to this request to reclassify the property as Urban Core in the Century V Plan, particularly as it is adjacent to the scenic, historic and important Ashley River and Colonial Lake. In addition, it is within a few feet of many important historic properties listed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places," officials said in the release.

The Beach Company responded to the Preservation Society's call to action on Thursday.

"Since 2006, The Beach Company has actively sought the feedback of the neighborhoods and community organizations with an interest in the redevelopment of the Sergeant Jasper property," the statement from the company reads. "Recently, some citizens have received inaccurate information, and we look forward to addressing concerns with a factual representation of the proposed plan at the Charleston Planning Commission meeting on Feb. 18."

On Friday, Corie Hipp, the co-president of Harleston Place, said the plans would create major traffic problems for an area already heavily trafficked. "We must stop unbridled growth on the news," Hipp said.{}

A hearing on the PUD application is set for Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 75 Calhoun Street.