Plans Accelerated to Widen I-26
In response to regional traffic growth, the SC Department of Transportation (SCDOT) has fast-tracked plans to widen Interstate 26 from 4 to 6 lanes for 70 miles between Charleston and Columbia. The State Legislature recently approved $600 million for this undertaking, with just over $450 million to come from Covid-19 aid allocated to roadworks and the remainder from the state’s “rural interstates” budget. This move will cut six years from the original timeline, with completion now projected for 2034. The 30 percent increase in lane size equates roughly to traffic growth experienced statewide over the past decade, with 22 million vehicles now traveling on this stretch of I-26 each year. To learn more, click here.
Upcoming Changes in Charleston’s Tourism Industry
South Carolina Ports has decided to not renew its homeport cruising contract with Carnival Cruise Lines in 2024. The port will still be open as a port of call to allow tourists to get off but SC Ports is currently developing a master plan for the Union Pier Terminal site to allow developers to purchase and develop the site in a way that will benefit the economy and the Charleston community. To read more, click here. In other tourism news, local businessman Kyle Kelly has developed a fully-electric horseless carriage to offer tourists an alternative to the horse-drawn carriage tours in historic downtown Charleston and elsewhere. His carriages seat 18 people and have battery-powered LED lights to provide greater visibility. He is seeking approval from the City of Charleston for a permit to operate here. To read more, click here.
Noteworthy Redevelopment Projects Planned for the Charleston Area
A new joint venture has been formed to rekindle the $2 billion Magnolia redevelopment project for the 189-acre tract in the Charleston Neck area along the Ashley River. The mixed-use project, subject to City approval and planned to begin in 2024, would consist of homes, offices, hotels, restaurants and retail space and would be completed in multiple phases, first focusing on the waterfront and then building inland over a 15- to 20-year period. To read more, click here. Under the $20-million Park Circle Reimagined project now underway, the City of North Charleston will be transforming Park Circle by offering many new amenities by fall 2023. These include an inclusive 55,000 square-foot playground and other features to allow all children to enjoy the new park, a designated farmers market and food vendor area, new walking paths, and a recreation facility. To read more about the project, click here.
Major New Stores Coming To Mount Pleasant
REI, a leading outdoor retailer, is set to open its first Charleston area store (and third in the state) in Indigo Square Shopping Center later this fall. With over 20,000 square feet, it will offer outdoor apparel, gear and a complete bike shop. The store will provide up to 50 full- and part-time positions and intends to partner with local outdoor nonprofits to preserve natural environments. To read more, click here. A new entertainment space, called Mix, is coming to Brookgreen Town Centre this November. The venue will have food, multiple bars, a speakeasy, a bowling alley, ping pong, and live entertainment. Find out more here. Plus, a new home decorations store, Heavens Marketplace, will open in the former Boone Hall Market store later this summer. In addition to home accessories, the store will have a coffee shop at its entrance and plans to offer events, including “floral design classes.” To read more, click here.
New Library for Dorchester County
Dorchester County and the Dorchester County School District 2 are working together to build a new $5.9 million library, with construction now underway. The library will allocate one-third of the space to students and the remainder for public use during the school day. The library will provide WiFi to students who may not have access at home and a STEM lab and stations to edit audio and video. They intend to add a bus stop at the library to provide a transportation option to the 750 to 1,000 people expected to use the library each day once it opens next year. To read more about the library, click here.