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Dubious N. Chas. Property Auction Continues Gentrification Trend
8/10/2016 3:49:08 PM

Bob King
By Barney Blakeney

The City of North Charleston’s proposal to sell land it owns to recoup some of the $6.5 million spent to settle the lawsuit claim by the family of Walter Scott raised a few eyebrows in a city where insider deals continuously shadow municipal proceedings.

City officials announced it would put four parcels it owns on the auction block last week.

Some balked at the unprecedented decision speculating that in an atmosphere fraught with accusations of unethical financial activities on the part of Mayor Keith Summey and his son Charleston County Council Chair Elliot Summey, the auction could be more of the same.

That one city councilman sought legal clearance to bid on the properties, didn’t help.

Several council members were asked to share their views on the subject. Council members Virginia Jamison and Sam Hart deferred questions to the administration and neither councilmen Michael Brown or Michael A. Brown returned calls for comment. Councilman Bob King did comment however.

The auctioned parcels are located in districts represented by several councilmen including Hart and King where the seeds of gentrification in the predominantly Black city are starting to grow. The auction drew more interest than participation, however. Prior to the Aug. 4 auction, hundreds called city hall with questions, but only about 20 people registered to make bids. All but one of the bids came in under the appraised value of the properties. City council has the option whether or not to accept the bids.

The largest parcel, a 17-acre tract on South Rhett Avenue and Noisette Creek where new development is transforming an entire community bounded by Rivers Avenue, Spruill Avenue, Mixon Avenue and Montague Avenue, could bring 200 new homes to the area.

King said the multi-family zoning for the property means higher densities to accommodate workers coming to the area for manufacturing jobs. He doesn’t see those homes as housing for low to moderate income families.

Chicora/Cherokee Neighborhood Association President Rebecca Rushton did not respond to emails requesting comments for this story, but Vice President A.J. Davis said of course the reuse of the auctioned properties will depend on the purchasers and zoning ordinances that are in place, but redevelopment usually doesn’t bode well for existing residents.

“North Charleston is starting to go through what has happened to downtown Charleston. Every redevelopment in North Charleston so far has impacted existing residents negatively. Downtown, that meant displacement,” Davis said.

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