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School of Architecture - Clemson again attempts to woo citizens

Neighborhood Society suggests a site on Ansonborough Field
Warwick Jones, Editor

Citizens will get another chance to express their views about the building that Clemson University proposes to build in Ansonborough for its School of Architecture. The finalists presented their preliminary ideas some months ago. If we said that the public response was mixed, we would be charitable. Mostly it seems that the public was disappointed by the designs with some neighborhood and preservation groups extremely critical. In broad terms, critics felt the school is in the wrong place, and a modern design totally inappropriate for the historic area. The public meeting will be on Wednesday, June 15, 2005 , 5:30-7:00 P.M. at 85 Calhoun Street

The Clemson Committee of the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association (HANA) will be making a proposal for an alternative site on the North end of Ansonborough Field. Clemson and the City need to realize that unchecked growth on the Peninsula will destroy not only Ansonborough, but also the entire Peninsula, the Committee says. The viability of the Peninsula as a residential area is at risk.

The HANA committee also noted "that on June 18, 1998 the Post and Courier editorial reported that "after months and months of negative reaction from the Ansonborough neighborhood, the leaders of the College of Charleston and City of Charleston had wisely decided to abandon the idea of building an annex to the Gaillard Auditorium as a new basketball arena for the C of C. What persuaded C of C then President Alex Sanders to look elsewhere was what he calls "the happiness quotient." "The proposal was making a lot of people unhappy". Further, "people need to be accorded an extra measure of respect for their homes. "It is what in the environment is known as "the territorial imperative-a certain strength comes from the territory".

"Let us hope that Clemson will accord Ansonborough the same measure of respect as was forthcoming all those many years ago from the College of Charleston".

The text of HANA request follows
HANA Clemson Committee
Alternative location for the Clemson School of Architecture

The Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association (HANA) supports Clemson University's plan to establish a School of Architecture in Charleston. It will enhance an already impressive academic community. That being said, HANA feels strongly that locating the school on the George Street site will be detrimental to both the quality of life for residents of the neighborhood and the historic integrity of this designated district.

Ansonborough faces an onslaught of development over the next few years. This is especially true in the George Street area. Consider some developments now under way;

• The College of Charleston basketball arena at the corner of Meeting Street and George. It will have a seating capacity of 5,000.
• The construction of 71 condominiums on George Street in the block between Meeting Street and King Street.
• College of Charleston dorms on George Street in the block between King Street and St. Phillip Street.

George Street and some adjoining streets are consistently congested with traffic. To some extent, the congestion reflects the increased flow of traffic on the Peninsula with more development and the influx of tourist and students. But more particularly it reflects the traffic patterns associated with the Spoleto headquarters, the Gaillard Auditorium, Buist Academy and the College of Charleston basket ball arena. For example, parents picking up their children from the Academy, block George and Anson Streets every day throughout the school year. Residents of George Street have many times expressed their concern regarding the ability of emergency vehicles having access to their homes. A new school on George Street will only exacerbate congestion.

The proposed school of architecture will be a 24/7 operation. Delivery trucks, student and faculty cars, visitors, school activities, seminars etc. will add incredible pressure to an already jammed George Street. With only six parking places proposed for the site, the on-site parking will not begin to address the parking needs of the school. Almost certainly, students and faculty will attempt to park in the neighborhood if they cannot park on-site. We fear that only as a last resort will they use parking garage facilities, available some distance from the school. Members of HANA rightly fear that the already difficult street-parking in the neighborhood will deteriorate to near-impossible.

HANA would like to make the following proposal - that the Clemson School of Architecture is located on Ansonborough Field(or any adjacent land owned by the city). Ansonborough Field is city owned, as was the George Street property prior to its conveyance to Clemson for the consideration of $1.00. This could be achieved through a land swap.

How would this proposal benefit Clemson and others?

Provision has already been made for a school on the Ansonborough Field site. The City originally proposed an Art school but this now seems unlikely. More recently, it was to be home to a new culinary institute. With Trident Tech receiving funding for it's own culinary school, and the College of Charleston considering a school in the culinary arts, there is little to justify a third such institution. There seems no reason why Clemson should not utilize the site. The size of the school proposed for the Field is compatible with that planned by Clemson.

It is a superior location in relation to access and facilities. The north side of Ansonborough Field fronts onto Calhoun Street, a wide, tree lined avenue leading to the Aquarium. The opportunity to build on unencumbered land, in an urban setting, should be more than enough reason to consider this location. Add to that the ease of ingress and egress on to East Bay Street, access to eating facilities, a planned park, dining facilities in the evening, a gym, Starbucks, outdoor cafés, a drugstore etc. ?

The school would have access to parking in a garage across Calhoun Street. This would also benefit the City, as this is an underutilized city garage. For access to the C of C, a shuttle service is already active between the garage and the C of C.

The close proximity of the newly built hotels would benefit both the college and the hotels.

The school would bring much needed foot traffic to this area of the Peninsula, benefiting one and all. The Aquarium is a struggling attraction and the development of Ansonborough Field is at least partly prompted to bring more foot traffic to the area and lift the patronage of the Aquarium. The location of the School on the Field, would help the City

It will bring Peace and Goodwill. HANA would be a willing partner.

Ansonborough is a residential community consisting of six city blocks. We are surrounded by commercial development, colleges, schools, all of which put incredible pressure on our fragile neighborhood. We will not be able to absorb another intrusion into Ansonborough without our quality of life being severely affected. Residents have chosen to live in Ansonborough, and are well aware of the pressures of urban living. However, Clemson and the City need to realize that unchecked growth on the Peninsula will destroy not only Ansonborough, but also the entire Peninsula. The viability of the Peninsula as a residential area is at risk.

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