Two stories on issues in the Upper King Street community in last week's Post and Courier failed to mention the large land holdings and development prospects of the paper's parent company. It draws fresh attention to the P&C's unique position of chronicling development in the area while also serving as one of Upper King's largest property owners.
On May 25, the paper ran an article on the dissolving development market in the area that included updates on six high-profile projects and an on-the-scene interview with Charleston Mayor Joe Riley. The story included comments from as many of the region's developers as possible — except for one.
In late 2006, Evening Post Publishing, the parent company of The Post and Courier, announced that it was getting into the real estate business — specifically with 12 largely-undeveloped acres the local media giant owns around its King Street office.
President and CEO Pierre Manigault later told the City Paper that Evening Post got into the real estate business out of "necessity."
"Our holdings on the peninsula came to be through some 50 years of randomly buying properties adjacent to the newspaper offices as they became available," he said in May '07.
A month earlier, The Post and Courier ran an article titled "Evening Post weighs land-use possibilities," which included much speculation from neighbors and city planners, with no shortage of expectations. Neighboring developer Jamie Price said the P&C site "could be the crowning jewel of upper King Street."
Price's nearby development was included in the six slowed properties spotlight in last week's piece, but there was nary a mention of The Post and Courier property.
Much like the other properties, Evening Post is waiting until the market improves before striking development plans back up, says Jon Barnwell, chief financial officer at Evening Post.
"We more or less are just sitting on the property," he tells the City Paper.
The company will continue to monitor neighboring developments and likely take cues from their progress to determine when to move forward with development, he says.
Watchdog on Short Leash
On May 26, the paper ran the latest in its "Watchdog" series, which typically addresses reader-prompted rants about parking, traffic, or bank fees. Last week, it was at the old Mt. Pleasant Street railroad crossing, where a property owner was at his wits ends over busses that were complying with the law and stopping at the unused tracks.
He wanted to know why the tracks hadn't been pulled up. Rail owners Norfolk Southern stressed the tracks weren't abandoned and the paper went on to ask the state Transportation Department why it wouldn't just pull up the old tracks. The answer is that it just can't.
The story is helpful enough to mention that the tracks run "south to where it ends near Columbus Street." What it fails to mention is that a good deal of the last two blocks of rail runs through The Post and Courier's 12 acres.
Editor and publisher Bill Hawkins tells the City Paper that the two instances were an unintentional omission, due in large part to the fact that Evening Post's real estate holdings are run out of a different arm of the company.
"It's sort of out of sight, out of mind, especially for most of our reporters," he says.
But Hawkins notes that editors need to pay closer attention to these stories considering the company's potential for future development at the site.