By Barney Blakeney
Local elected officials in the past two weeks again have addressed ongoing issues about living conditions at Charleston County’s only rental apartment complex, Joseph Floyd Manor. Residents for years have complained that the building was poorly maintained and issues of pest infestations and illegal activities prevailed.
Joseph Floyd Manor is a retirement home in the upper Charleston peninsula located at the northwest corner of Mt. Pleasant St. and King St. Originally known as the Darlington Apartments, construction began in January 1950 and incorporated commercial spaces along with 156 apartments.
In 1979, the Charleston County Housing and Redevelopment Authority tried to rework the building into apartments for the elderly with the assistance of $2.5 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The lowest bid received for the work, however, was $3.6 million. At the time, the chairman of the authority was Joseph H. Floyd. The work eventually was carried out and the newly christened Joseph Floyd Manor reopened in March 1981. After the work, the first floor included a mix of uses; the second floor was for handicapped residents; and the upper floors were for the elderly.
But in the past two decades, the building has had the dubious distinction of serving as a haven for various and nefarious activities hiding among the community’s most vulnerable citizens. Last week S.C. House Dist. 111 Rep. Wendell Gilliard sent a series of letters to HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Cong. James Clyburn, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster and others after he toured the building with several other elected officials firsthand witnessing what Gilliard termed as subpar living conditions. Clyburn previously operated a business in the building as well as his Charleston satellite congressional office. “The conditions at Joseph Floyd Manor are most definitely subhuman and deplorable,” Gilliard wrote Clyburn.
But despite tales of prostitution, illegal drug activity, rat and bug infestations, some good things also are happening at Joseph Floyd Manor. Earlier this year, Enough Pie Community Manager Bennett Jones announced that Tales from the Manor Book: Season One of Enough Pie’s Tales from The Manor radio show was being adapted into a book. The show features interviews with residents of the Joseph Floyd Manor. Each episode features a resident who shares their life story, including their history of Charleston and the challenges and triumphs of the Upper Peninsula then and now. Enough Pie’s mission is to use creativity to connect and empower the community of Charleston’s Upper Peninsula.