West Ashley Revitalization
The collection of roadways, parking areas and commercial sites at the intersection of Old Towne Road and Sam Rittenberg Boulevard is what we are calling the "Northbridge Gateway." The focal point of this area is the abandoned Piggly Wiggly grocery store, which was recently acquired by the City of Charleston for the purposes of creating a catalytic redevelopment effect, one that would beautify and unify the site and its surroundings.
The Northbridge Gateway has been the subject of public discourse and a progression of design studies for decades, from the "Old Charles Towne District" master plan conducted in 2000, to the proposed gas station in 2016, and now as part of the Plan West Ashley process and resulting master plan. During the course of Plan West Ashley, the Design Division studied the site for specifically-assigned civic uses: a park and a community building (shown above). During this period, consultants Dover-Kohl & Partners developed intersection studies an conceptual master plan for the broader area. The constraint of having to use the property for solely a "civic" use was then removed when the the City and owner agreed to an outright land purchase. The City is now able to pursue a range of mixed-use and civic-oriented redevelopment programs to achieve the desired revitalization effect.
Conceptual Enhancement: Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston
Most recently, the Design Division engaged the Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston (CACC) to study civic and mixed-use programs and configurations for the former Piggly Wiggly site. (See Post & Courier coverage here.) The CACC provided student, faculty and professional design thinking to this important project. Students worked collectively to identify constraints, programs and principles for the site and its surrounding context. Then they broke into teams to develop alternative design and development proposals for the old Piggly Wiggly site. This process has allowed enhanced and uninhibited design thinking during the adoption phase of Plan West Ashely, something very much needed for such a critical revitalization focal point. Find a summary document of their work here.
Intersection Alignment & Redesign
One thing is clear: the "Suicide Merge" must be fixed. The realignment of Old Towne Road and Sam Rittenberg Boulevard will affect the overall traffic flow of the study area, including all modes of transportation, as well as the capacity of surrounding development areas. In other words, how this intersection is redesigned will have a significant impact on the Northbridge Gateway redevelopment site. The alignment and design of a new intersection at this location must be determined before a design for site redevelopment can be created.