CofC prof. Paul Roof hosting sequel to 16-year-old gentrification panel

People were not feeling the Starbucks invasion 16 years ago

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Continued development further up the King Street-Meeting Street corridor will affect neighborhoods on either side of I-26 - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Continued development further up the King Street-Meeting Street corridor will affect neighborhoods on either side of I-26
The age-old question of what is becoming of downtown Charleston will get some updated answers 16 years later.

College of Charleston sociology professor Paul Roof is re-creating a discussion put together by political science students at the college in November 2001. In the "sparsely attended forum," as written in the Dec. 5, 2001 issue of the City Paper, panelists and attendees discussed "the root causes and potential cures for the strip's growing struggle with gentrification."

"Do we really need three Starbuckses within a one-mile radius?" wondered small business consultant Manny Mello during a conversation that was dominated by concerns over national chains, rising rents, and malls.

Now, less than two months away from 2018 and closer to seven Starbuckses in a one-mile radius, Roof says it's time to re-examine the path Charleston has been on for the better part of two decades.

"The character of King Street has changed, with the gentrification of Upper King, I thought it would be fun to get some people together and sort of reflect on the state of affairs," Roof said.

Roof says that dramatic changes to the city's infrastructure tend to shock Charleston's newer residents, who are used to the polished, bustling nature of today's downtown.

"There was no such thing as Second Sunday on King," Roof said. "At the time of the panel, Marion Square was a dump. It was surrounded by chain-link fences and cars that worked in office buildings downtown."

Solutions proposed in the 2001 panel included training for small business owners and incentives for landlords to rent out to mom-and-pop shops. Roof hopes that a new discussion will generate some new ideas on how to best preserve the Holy City's charm. 

The discussion, named "Has King St. Become an Outdoor Mall?" will take place on Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. in the College's Education Center. Speakers have yet to be announced.

Check out the Facebook event page for updates.


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