June 2, 2015: Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., joined us with an update on City of Charleston initiatives. Elected in 1975, Mayor Riley is serving his tenth term and is na-tionally recognized as a leader in urban design and liva-bility issues. Recipient of many honors and accolades over the years, he was recently presented with the Na-tional Medal for Design Leadership by the American Ar-chitecture Foundation.
After thanking club members for their engagement in service, the Mayor commented on a number of new and existing projects. Here are some highlights:
Gaillard Center – this $142 million performing arts center will open October 9th and include 1,800 seat performance hall, convention space, and city offices for one-stop permitting and planning services .
West Ashley focus includes a new 16,000sf Senior Center, completion of the West Ashley Circle (at Glenn McConnell Blvd), and revitalization of the Citadel Mall area.
International African American Museum –Mayor Riley calls one of the most important institutions the city and county could develop; to be housed at the former location of Gadsden Wharf, this is projected to cost $75 million, 1/3 of which has been committed to by the City and County, 1/3 pledged by the State Legislature, and 1/3 hoped for from private funds.
Drainage Improvements – $200 million total budget for multiple projects under-way, including East Bay/Calhoun Street, Ardmore, Avondale, Byrnes Down, Market Street, and the Cross Town; all phases of the Cross Town project have been funded via the State Infrastructure Bank.
West Edge (formerly the Horizon Project), a City and MUSC project will create a new mixed-use neighborhood; the first three projects will be apartments, office, and parking and cost approximately $210 million.
Police Department – three new initiatives are focusing on community engage-ment and reduction of recidivism rates through counseling and job place-ment within the City.
When asked to name some Spoleto moments, the Mayor suggested the very first one, the public events that transformed Marion Square, and the free concert at the US Custom House. Asked for advice for his successor, he suggested infra-structure (I-526 completion, bike/ped paths) is critical and urged the new Mayor should work hard, listen to the citizens (“hear their words, see their hearts”), and seek to excel at something better than any other city.
Submitted by Tammy Coghill, Keyway Committee
Photo by Historian Fred Sales