In what has to be the boldest "fuck you" in Charleston development history, the Beach Company announced earlier today that they would be opening the Sgt. Jasper to new tenants.
As you know, many, many moons ago, the Beach Company kicked out the previous tenants of the 14-story apartment building. The reason: Beach planned to demolish the structure and build a new mixed-use project in its place. To no one's surprise, the NIMBYs in Harleston Village and South of Broad vehemently opposed the developer's new plan — A grocery store? Well, there goes the neighborhood.
And so the NIMBYs rallied their troops, petitioned, packed meetings, and generally pissed themselves like pampered toddlers throwing a late-afternoon, snackless hissy fit. The end result: the Board of Architectural Review rejected the Beach Co.'s plan.
So Beach went back to square one and devised a new plan that, unlike the previous one, met all current zoning regulations — a 20-story structure filled with luxury apartments. It was a bold and brilliant middle finger to the NIMBYs, who, sadly, didn't appreciate the ironic turn of events. So they rallied their troops, and the BAR rejected the Beach Co.'s efforts once again.
But with today's announcement, the latest round goes to the Beach Co. In a statement, Beach's attorney Richard Rosen says:
Prior to beginning the BAR process and expending large sums on the design of the project, The Beach Company went to great lengths to confirm with the appropriate City representatives the applicable zoning restrictions, including the height, density and uses before it made the decision to cancel leases and remove tenants from the building. Had The Beach Company known the City would not honor the zoning rights associated with the property, it would have addressed these issues prior to closing the building and losing its revenue stream.
Then Beach Company’s chief executive officer, John Darby, chimes in:
We believe the proposed plan for The Jasper provides a balanced conservative solution shaped by community discourse over the years,” said The Beach Company’s Chief Executive Officer, John Darby. “We appreciate the community leaders who have come forward in support of our appeal, including the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. We remain committed to building a world-class project.
Jonathan Boncek file photo
Since it's uncertain exactly how long it will take this matter to be hashed out in the courts, one has to wonder who exactly will want to move into the Sgt. Jasper. After all, to paraphrase George R.R. Martin: Eviction is coming.
But, like Jon Snow, I know nothing about how all of this will ultimately turn out if things continue along the present path. However, I do know a thing or two about pissing people off, and so, right here, right now, I would like to offer the Beach Co. a surefire way to make sure this matter is resolved in their favor, sooner rather than later.
As you may know, Charleston has a growing homeless problem. Anyone who has seen the increasing number of panhandlers on the streets or has seen the homeless camps underneath the Ravenel Bridge knows this. Heck, the City of Charleston itself has attempted to remedy this situation by kicking the bums out of their tent cities and banning them from begging for farthings on the street — a heartless albeit aesthetically pleasing move, for sure, one that both offends and satisfies.
Being the kind of person who is of two minds about the Holy City's homeless problem, I've long been searching for a solution that reconciles these two competing sides. This is where my proposal comes into play: The Beach Co. should open the Sgt. Jasper as a low-rent home to not only the town's homeless population, but the entire tri-county area. I'm talking no more than a buck or two a week, if not a month. Brilliant, yes?
On the one hand, this plan gets the homeless off the mean streets and into safe housing, and on the other, it will further anger the residents of Harleston Village and South of Broad, who quite simply will be unable to deal with their new neighbors.
I guarantee you if the Beach Co. does what I say, the Sgt. Jasper will be rubble in no time — and a mixed-use building with a grocery store will be taking its place.