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County Council, December 17

Contract for work on Folly/Camp Road intersection awarded
New hotel for Peninsula, maybe
Warwick Jones

Work on the Folly/Camp Road intersection is likely to begin shortly with the approval of the construction contract. Council last night awarded the contract to Bank Construction who bid $13 million for the project.

The project includes necessary roadway and drainage improvements as well as potable water and sanitary sewer relocates. The funding is complex but State and Federal sources will provide the major part. SCDOT will reimburse the County up to 50% of eligible expenditures, but not to exceed $2.9 million. It will also reimburse the County using CHATS Guideshare Funds up to 80% of eligible expenditures not exceeding $6.5 million. A difference of $3.6 million remains with the actual projected cost, but the County will also receive reimbursements from Charleston Water Systems and James Island Public Service District. The public documents did not indicate the likely net cost to the County. The County is to manage the contract.

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Residents of the Peninsula will be interested to know that another 50 room hotel is planned for construction. The site is Cumberland Street between Church and State Streets and its cost is estimated at $40 million. As the site is in the City of Charleston, one could wonder why this has anything to do with the County. The reason is simple. The approval by the City for construction requires the provision of adequate parking. The developer does not plan to provide “on site” parking but to fulfill the City requirement, hopes to lease 50 spaces nearby for 10 years, beginning early 2017. These spaces are in the County parking garage adjacent to the planned hotel site.

Normally we’d think the City would accept this lease arrangement as meeting requirements. But we note that the County approval comes with the caveat that it could terminate the lease if it needed the spaces for public use. A lot of citizens, concerned about the buildup of parking pressures in the City, have been hostile to the 10 year lease arrangement for meeting parking requirements for new construction. Many citizens would prefer to see permanent requirements. After 10 years, the cars are back of the streets and in effect, the parking pressure is only deferred for 10 years. Notwithstanding, a 10 year lease of spaces is acceptable under City ordinances. But in the case of this new hotel, there is a chance that demand builds for spaces in the County and lease is terminated. So much for meeting the requirement for 10 years. We think the City will ask the developer to make other plans.

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Council member Pryor raised the issue of the super street project on Highway 17/Main Street at the close of the last night’s meeting. His purpose seemed to be reassurance. Council members agreed that a flyover was the best solution but at a cost of $60 million, it was not an acceptable alternative. So despite its critics, the super street at a cost of about $2 million was the only viable option. However the SC DOT will be asked to give a presentation to Council in the New Year on the super street project. Hopefully, it will have a soothing effect on Council members before construction begins, scheduled for next year.

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