Over forty years ago, the original Save Charleston Foundation was created in response to plans to destroy some historic structures in downtown Charleston, replacing them with housing that many considered out-of-scale to the locale. Save Charleston successfully fought the plans, bringing about compromises and changes that everyone could live with.
Later, when Charleston Place was being planned, another group successfully brought about revised plans resulting in lower building heights and other modifications to make the structure more compatible with our historic city.
Now, in 2011 the need has risen again.
Always a port city, Charleston prides itself on maritime history and business while at the same time growing as a community of residential neighborhoods and a center for arts and culture. The fabric of the city is woven between all aspects, with tourism currently a driving force of economic development.
The population was counted by the U.S. Census in 2010 at 120,083, making Charleston the second most populous city in South Carolina, close behind the state capital, Columbia. Current trends reveal Charleston to be the state’s fastest-growing municipality, one of three principal cities in a metropolitan area of 659,191 and the 76th largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States. The peninsula itself has more than 34,500 residents.
While there have been cruise ships coming to Charleston for decades, beginning in 2010 the city became a “home port” to Celebrity Cruise lines, which left due to the norovirus episode. Celebrity was immediately replaced by Carnival Cruise Lines – with 68 cruises embarking and debarking from Charleston in 2011. Over 20 port-of-call ships are also scheduled this year.
Over the past three years, cruises have tripled in Charleston. The cruise market is growing quickly across the globe. And while cruise, port and city officials say they “will tell us” if more than 104 ships a year are coming and that arriving ships will have not more than 3,500 passengers aboard, they won’t agree to be bound by or enforce these “voluntary” limits.
The cruise situation is already unacceptable to many. It is threatening not only the lifestyles of residents, but the experience of tourism. Charleston is woven of a delicate fabric of arts, culture, history, families, local and international businesses. No one aspect should outweigh another. They must grow in harmony, or there will be an imbalance threatening the well-being of all.
What we are not about.
Fear-mongering is a good description of false claims by spokespeople for the City and SPA that we are trying to end cruise operations, kill maritime jobs, curtail cargo operations, destroy port activity, damage business throughout the state, devalue a $43 billion state asset, and attack private enterprise. Nor are we “downtown elitists” saying “not in my backyard” or “worried about people wandering around our neighborhoods in flip-flops.” But that’s how our opposition to current plans is being spun.