Conceptual plans for new cruise terminal gain approval

By Matt Tomsic
Published Aug. 11, 2011

The city of Charleston’s Board of Architectural Review gave conceptual approval Wednesday to plans for a new cruise passenger terminal on Union Pier.

The board voted 4-0, with Sheila Wertimer, Phyllis Ewing and Craig Bennett Jr. recusing themselves because of potential conflicts of interest, said Debbi Rhoad Hopkins, senior preservation planner for the board. Approval came after the S.C. State Ports Authority’s design team presented plans to convert an existing warehouse on the northern end of Union Pier into a cruise terminal.

Hopkins said conceptual approval applies to basic building plans, including height, scale and mass.

“We appreciate the BAR’s consideration and input on this project, which begins the tremendous opportunity to redevelop Union Pier,” SPA President and CEO Jim Newsome said in a news release. “Our team has developed a plan that we are extremely proud of, and the community’s support was reflected in the letters submitted and attendance at the meeting.”

All but one of the 13 letters submitted to the board approved of the plans for the new terminal. Katie Zimmerman, a project manager with the Coastal Conservation League, filed the lone dissenting letter. In it, she requested shoreside power be included at the new terminal and argued that the suburban design of the building is not appropriate for the terminal’s urban context.

Letters of support came from downtown residents and other organizations, including the Charleston Branch Pilots’ Association and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Hopkins said designers will return to the board for preliminary approval, which could take some time. The stage after preliminary approval is final approval.

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