Coleman Boulevard becoming Mount Pleasant’s downtown

By Ashley Barker
abarker@scbiznews.com
Published March 20, 2014

Coleman Boulevard has become an important growth management tool for the town of Mount Pleasant, according to town administrator Eric DeMoura.

Town Council first mentioned revitalizing Coleman Boulevard in 1982 and efforts really ramped up in 2004, DeMoura said during a Business in Your Backyard event hosted by the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce at Southerly Restaurant. The idea was to mix public investment — such as parks, farmers markets and underground utilities — with favorable zoning changes.

Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce members packed into the Southerly Restaurant to hear from Mount Pleasant officials about the revitalization of Coleman Boulevard on Wednesday morning.
Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce members packed into the Southerly Restaurant to hear from Mount Pleasant officials about the revitalization of Coleman Boulevard on Wednesday morning.
(Photo provided by Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce)
“Those two pieces of the equation would go ahead and set a favorable environment to bring some private interest and private investment in the community,” DeMoura said. “You’re seeing it now. It’s begun, and it’s happening.”

Coleman Boulevard is being developed like what you’d expect from a downtown area where pedestrian and bicycle traffic is encouraged and an “activity zone” is in front of each business rather than a traditional buffer between the street and entrance.

Christiane Farrell, Mount Pleasant’s planning director, said businesses are encouraged to display merchandise in windows and outside facing the boulevard, as well as to offer outdoor dining and entertainment.

Zoning changes in 2004 and 2005 also allowed for more workforce housing so that young and retired people could afford housing in the area and walk or bike to establishments.

“Properties on Coleman were almost all areawide business zoning, which is our general commercial zoning district,” Farrell said. “We recognized that we needed to tweak that to allow greater residential development to occur.”

The town looked at facility height limits and decided all buildings that face Coleman Boulevard must be at least two stories and no more than four stories. Three properties on larger tracts of land — The Boulevard, Moultrie Plaza and the Sea Island Crossing — were given different specifications, Farrell said.

The urban-style development has been a tremendous draw for residents of The Boulevard Apartments, according to Christy Wright, a regional manager of Greystar Real Estate Partners LLC, which took over management of the 325-unit complex in January. She said 70 apartments have been leased since their takeover.

“Seventy leases in two months is really unheard of, especially in the first quarter. Our average rent is $1,385 with a price per square foot of $1.86,” Wright said, adding that rent has already increased three times this year.

Bryan Derreberry, president and CEO of the chamber, said by implementing the zoning changes and investing in the area, the town is choosing to be a “smart community.”

“Obviously we’re formulating a bright future in Mount Pleasant and our region,” he said.

The next Business in Your Backyard event is scheduled for April 9 in North Charleston.

Reach Ashley Barker at 843-849-3144 or @AshleyNBarker.

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