December 11, 2008

"From Trash to Treasure"

December 9th, 2008: Today, we had the pleasure of hearing from William Bagwell of The Ginn Company, about the proposed Promenade Project on the Charleston peninsula. Upon fruition, Promenade is slated to be built atop what used to be the Romney Street Landfill. The project would cover 180 acres inside Charleston city limits, running along Morrison drive to the water at Town Creek, and share a neighborhood with the beautiful Magnolia Cemetery and our the valuable Charleston Port.

In the 1800's the land served as the city's main ammunition storage facility and then as a former oil terminal. In the more recent past the property has served as a home for dredge soils, scrap steel, county landfill and oil pipelines and terminals. In 1995 the county determined that the landfill was full, and decided to close it out, and had plans engineered to do so. The landfill was covered with soil and monitoring wells and gas vents were installed. Seven years ago, CSX railroad sold the property that was later purchased by the Ginn Company with the vision of the Promenade in mind. Today, the land is an attractive green space, of open fields, dotted with trees and serves as a home to local wildlife, and the future site of a "thriving addition to the city of Charleston".

The Ginn Company envisions Promenade as a mixture of residential, civic and commercial properties; to include shopping, entertainment, condominiums, marinas, hotels and possibly a convention center, amphitheater and a water taxi service. To help make this dream a reality The Ginn Company signed a contract with South Carolina DHEC and is working closely with the department to ensure the success of the revitalization. The developer will continue testing the soil for contaminates over the next 5 years, and will be adding another layer of soil and a pipe system to collect and remove methane gas from the property. Buildings will be constructed on pilings that are driven 50 to 60 feet into the bedrock below the landfill to help insure their stability. While landfill redevelopment certainly has the connotation of being complicated, it has been common since the 1980's and widely successful in other areas of the country. The Ginn Company says "It is our goal to make Promenade a national model for Brownfield redevelopment and the turn this neglected stretch of Charleston waterfront into a thriving addition to the city". By combining today's superior building technology with The Ginn Company's unique vision, the citizens and visitors of historic Charleston may well experience a true reinvention of "Trash" to "Treasure".

Submitted by Elizabeth W. Burwell, Keyway Committee

December 5, 2008

"South Carolina's Other Beautiful City!"

December 2nd, 2008: Mayor Knox White is very proud of the City of Greenville, for good reason. Mr. White is a partner at the state-wide law firm of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A., in Greenville, where he heads the immigrations and customs practice group. Between traveling to China for business, and hosting exchange students from his own Rotary club, he somehow finds time to govern the City of Greenville. He has been the Mayor there for about 13 years, during which time Greenville's downtown has become an exciting destination for locals and visitors. Mr. White is also as sharp as a whip --he immediately conceded to our club that it is not easy to attempt to transform his city into one as fashionable as Charleston. While he loves visiting Charleston, he boasts endlessly about his very own Greenville.

Since the time he has been in office, Greenville has gotten a noticeable facelift. The minor league baseball stadium was built downtown, inhabited by the team ingeniously named, "The Greenville Drive." Mayor White noted that the name was initially controversial, but then caught on. It is meant to reflect the perseverance and futuristic "drive" of the locals, and is also a play on the automobile manufacturing done in the area. Mayor White is not afraid of controversy, and spear-headed another project that was initially looked upon with mixed reviews: the beautification of the Falls Park at the River Reedy, in downtown Greenville. Once a river forgotten, the Reedy and its falls were covered up by a large cement bridge for years. Now the area is virtually unrecognizable compared to its former days. In place of the old bridge, there is a lively pedestrian bridge spanning the falls. The new bridge was designed by a German firm, and there is none other like it the country. In addition, there are beautiful gardens and green space in the Falls Park. It is one of the most popular downtown destinations on the weekends.

Mayor White credits his downtown beautification project to some tactful funding methods. While the City fronted the 13 million to overhaul Reedy River, private investors have followed suit, pouring in over 200 million to the surrounding area, making the project a huge win. Around the Falls and Main Street, there are mixed use buildings. Restaurants, shops, and condos are all on the same block and oftentimes the same building, in downtown Greenville. Mayor White noted that there are over 75 restaurants in the downtown, which is packed from Thursday evening through all-day Sunday. The City wisely built 7 large parking garages, and shuns parking meters on the street.

Major White's presentation was fantastic advertising for Greenville, which seems to be an exciting destination. We enjoyed Knox White's presentation, and hope to host this fellow Rotarian again soon.

Submitted by Jackie Grau, Keyway Committee