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Redevelopment Of Liberty Hill Will Come - Will Residents Be Ready?
11/6/2013 12:01:49 PM

Carolyn Lecque

By Barney Blakeney

If you build it, they will come.

The Charleston Area Regional Transit Authority plans to develop a new transportation hub that will provide a central location for rail, shuttle, bus and taxi passengers at the Amtrack passenger train station on Gaynor Avenue in North Charleston.

The $15 million project will be located adjacent to the historically Black Liberty Hill community on Montague Avenue. CARTA Board of Directors Chairman Elliott Summey said he expects the development will have a positive impact on the Liberty Hill community. So do others.

Carolyn Lecque, whose family members have owned property and conducted business in the community that was founded some 150 years ago, thinks redevelopment is coming to the declining neighborhood.

To the east and south of the neighborhood lie the old Park Circle community on Montague Avenue and The Mixson on Mixson and Durant avenues. Both are upscale communities. The Mixson development eventually will include 271 multifamily, 221 single family, 46 townhouse and 44 condo units in addition to a market and cafe, bath and racquet club, dog parks and green space.

The Oak Terrace Preserve development north of Liberty Hill is planned for a 55-acre redeveloped area that ultimately will include some 370 residences.

North Charleston officials in January announced the start of the second phase of the Oak Terrace Preserve development that will construct some 52 new homes and 16 town houses in the former Liberty Homes community on Lackawanna Boulevard.

Lecque said the surrounding development eventually has to include Liberty Hill. The community is ripe for development, she said.

There has been ongoing discussion of redevelopment activity such as streetscaping as aging residents watched the community move from having about about 100 percent of residences being owner occupied in the past to about 60 percent owner occupied currently, Lecque said.

“Liberty Hill has suffered benign neglect. They have been going around us, but now they’re going to have to come through us,” Lecque said.

But are Liberty Hill’s aging homeowners ready? If not, they have only to look at what happened to downtown Charleston neighborhoods to see their own future. Black neighborhoods downtown that were in decline 20 years ago now are predominantly white residential and commercial jewels.

North Charleston Citywide Projects Manager Wannetta Mallette grew up in the Liberty Hill community. She thinks the redevelopment surrounding Liberty Hill represents an opportunity for its residents.

The new transportation hub especially represents an opportunity for new businesses that cater to travelers such as culturally unique restaurants and accommodations just a stone’s thrown from the planned facility, she said.

The hub can serve as a catalyst for both economic and residential development, she said, but leadership will be key.

“There has to be some kind of cultural shift.

But I don’t think that will happen unless there is someone with the wherewithal to lead,” she said.

Visitor Comments
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Submitted By: Paul Wilczynski Submitted: 11/7/2013
It's Oak Terrace *Preserve*.

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