Mellow Mushroom, Mad River To Get Patios…
2009/04/15, 2:57 pm
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Mellow Mushroom, Mad River To Get Patios
Posted by Greg Hambrick on Thu, Apr 9, 2009 at 3:32 PM
Pictured: Mushroom co-owner Michael Shem-Tov at the site of the new King Street patio

After banning indoor smoking nearly two years ago, zoning officials at the City of Charleston made a move on Tuesday to give smokers an alternative to busy city sidewalks.

A request for a back patio at Mad River Bar & Grille on North Market Street was refused in 2007. But a new effort for a smaller patio received the thumbs up from city staff and the Board of Zoning Appeals largely due to the need for smoking space. The City of Charleston banned smoking in all indoor businesses in July 2007 after years of debate on the impact it would have on businesses, but with little conversation about where the smokers would go.

“What’s happening now is that there’s a large crowd of people on the front sidewalk on Market Street,” says Lee Batchelder, the city’s zoning director. “It’s more noticeable in this area because of the proximity of other bars and restaurants.

Nearby venues include the Market Street Saloon, Wild Wing Cafe, Purple Tree Lounge, and Henry’s Bar and Restaurant, among others.

“I think there’s a real need to provide outdoor space for these establishments,” Batchelder says, though not naming specific bars or restaurants.

The solution is a bit more palatable at Mad River because the building at the corner of East Bay and North Market Street has more space in the back than most downtown bars. The patio will include an outdoor bar (until 11 p.m.) and limited table seating.

Preservationists and representatives from the Ansonborough neighborhood opposed the request.

“This is just providing a bar and music, and it’s an intrusion into the neighborhood,” says Robert Gurley, executive director of the Charleston Preservation Society.

The zoning board refused a request for outside speakers, fearing the sound might travel a few blocks, affecting downtown residents.

A similar request last year for a rooftop patio at Mellow Mushroom on King Street was shot down by the zoning board because of opposition from the owners of the building next door, who had rental units that would have been adjacent to the roof-top patio.

On Thursday, Mellow Mushroom owners announced that they were able to work with the city to win approval for the patio:

“When the patio is complete it will have a lush tropical feel,” according to a release. “Since there are residential apartments next to the Mellow Mushroom, there will not have an outdoor bar, live music, and will have reduced hours by closing at midnight instead of 2a.m. The focus instead will be on outdoor dining.”

These successful requests could be followed by more businesses. Batchelder says patrons need a place to smoke.

“That shouldn’t be on the sidewalk in front of the business if at all possible,” he says.


Charleston to barge ahead of global warming
2009/04/01, 1:15 pm
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Barge Ahead


With scientific evidence steadily mounting as to the ncreased likelihood of global warming-induced sea level rise, Charleston City planners have begun a feasibility study concerning the gradual transplanting of the city’s fabled historic district (at least S.O.B.) to a huge, floating barge.Mr. Delagault Dimwiddie, director of the city’s newly formed Office of Apocalyptic Affairs, revealed in a press conference last week that various new options are being explored to save Charleston from the near-certainty that much of the city will be flooded by a sea level rise of five feet or more by the end of the century.”I’m finally a believer in sea level rise,” says Dimwiddie, citing the pernicious liberal conspiracy.

While technological and construction details haven’t yet been worked out, Dimwiddie remains optimistic that the plan is practical. Unlimited cheap labor will be no problem, he says. His office is hard at work on a project to round up the hordes of South Carolina’s unemployed and incarcerated citizens and put them to gainful work. “Slavery made Charleston great once … maybe it’s time to try it again,” he commented.

Long-term funding is assured. Per the plan’s “reverse tourism” feature, we’ll eventually be able to take the Holy City directly to the tourists — on both sides of the Atlantic. Besides, unrestricted gambling, once Charleston becomes a big, offshore boat, is sure to generate significant further revenue.

“And seceding from the Union (at least for Charleston) won’t be nearly as much of a problem next time,” Dimwiddie quipped. By adding offensive weaponry to the Battery’s shore defenses (and converting the south end of East Bay Street to an airstrip), the city can even subcontract to the Defense Department, giving Citadel cadets unlimited future opportunities to start new wars.

“We can even preserve Charleston’s hallmark cuisine,” Mr. D. mused. The idea is to hang seafood farming enclosures over the side, once the marshes have drowned and local marine species are extinct. “That way, we can preserve the Lowcountry oyster roast and keep serving shrimp ‘n’ grits.” (The matter of grits procurement has yet to be addressed.)

“Just think,” he concluded, “It’ll be like Noah’s Ark all over again: We can ride out this pinko-commie-liberal-generated climate crisis, and repopulate abandoned coastal regions once it’s over. And there’ll be nothing to stop us from maintaining our precious red-state traditions and fascination with the past.”–By Lindsay Koob

Stimulus-funded roofing project already under way
2009/03/31, 6:51 pm
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Although most projects made possible by the federal stimulus are in planning stages, a roofing project that puts 14 people to work began this week. The Housing Authority of the City of Charleston awarded a contract last week to RRW Construction for replacement of roofs on 34 buildings at Wraggborough Homes, one of its downtown properties. That work started Monday, said Don Cameron, executive director of the housing authority. Three other stimulus-funded projects are expected to begin next week. The four projects represent about $800,000 of the $3 million the Charleston housing authority received from the stimulus plan, an amount calculated based on a federal funding formula. Cameron said the housing authority was able to move quickly on several repair projects because they were already identified in the agency’s five-year plan, and that plan has already received approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The housing authority’s staff and board started bid procedures in late February, after they learned that the $3 million was headed to Charleston, Cameron said. The federal money hit the bank March 23, and the authority signed four contracts the next day. The three projects expected to begin next week are the following: Exterior painting and wood repair at Wraggborough Homes. The $74,895 contract was awarded to Vatos Painting. Estimated jobs: 8 Exterior painting and wood repair for 33 buildings at Meeting Street Manor. The $207,000 contract was awarded to Construction/Dynamics. Estimated jobs: 20 Replacement of roofs on 13 buildings at Meeting Street Manor and 11 buildings at Gadsden Green Homes Extension. The $249,900 contract was awarded to Charles Blanchard Construction. Estimated jobs: 26 Cameron said roofs on most of the housing authority’s properties are about 20 years old and were last replaced after Hurricane Hugo. The Charleston housing authority board is set to award additional maintenance and repair contracts on April 28. Cameron said those projects, which will improve the authority’s properties in all parts of the city, will likely use the remainder of the $3 million.

Please volunteer for a great cause || East Cooper Community Outreach
2009/03/17, 4:16 pm
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A colleague and friend of mine has brought to my attention a great volunteering outreach program by the name of “The East Cooper Community Outreach”.  Jill is looking for volunteers on Tuesday evenings from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm starting in Early April.  Come out and support the community as there are many in need these days for a helping hand.  Beverages and hors d’oeuvres will be served courtesy of Whole Foods.  Please contact myself or Jill Wysocki @ to RSVP by March 23rd, 2009.

East Cooper Community Outreach

February sales figures – Charleston, SC
2009/03/10, 7:43 pm
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The weak housing market continued to depress sales last month, with 363 deals closing in February.

That number was down slightly from January’s 372 closings, according to monthly data released today by the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors.

The median sale price for the region rebounded slightly, climbing 4% from January’s low to reach $183,180.

The statistics continued to show a downward trend year over year as well. Last month saw 43% fewer sales than the 636 that closed in February 2008, and the region’s median sale price fell 8% from February of last year, when the average price was $200,000.

The number of potential buyers continued to rise and showed the fifth consecutive month of increased showings — a total of 18,212 for the month.

The Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service currently lists 10,051 homes for sale.

Dorchester County

  • Closings showed the largest statistical gains in Dorchester County, with a 26% increase in sales over January’s levels and 87 closed transactions. 
  • The median sale price for the county also showed an increase, up 12% to $169,990.
  • The southern portion of the county (Ladson Road to Bacon’s Bridge/Hwy.165) supported the majority of the county’s increases, as sales in that area picked up significantly, and median price rose 18%, from $134,000 to $158,000.

Charleston County

  • As a whole, Charleston County showed sales down 11% and a 5% decline in median price from January, but several municipalities showed signs of promise.
  • North Charleston saw a 5% increase in median sale price.
  • Sales increased 6% in Mount Pleasant.
  • James Island and West Ashley markets remained stable for the month.

Berkeley County

  • Berkeley County saw minimal movement in the residential market for February.
  • Sales slowed 3%, with 93 closings.
  • Median price dipped less than 2%, settling at $162,400.
  • A significant increase in sales on Daniel Island likely helped stabilize the market; 13 homes sold on the island in February with a median sale price of $385,000, versus four sales in January.

Sections of I-26 amongst those receiving stimulus money
2009/03/04, 9:31 pm
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By Mike Fitts
Published March 4, 2009

Federal stimulus dollars will fuel work on Interstate 26 near the Charleston peninsula and two major interstate resurfacing projects in the Midlands.

The top project on the maintenance list is a 10-mile section of eastbound Interstate 20 stretching from Lexington into Richland County north of Columbia. Also on the list is a six-mile southbound stretch of Interstate 77 in Richland County, near the interchange with I-20.

The projects are part of the $50 million in interstate maintenance money that the S.C. Department of Transportation Commission approved in February with the intent of having the money obligated to projects in the first 120 days, though actual work is unlikely to start by then.

A total of $74 million is allocated to interstate maintenance; a separate $150 million will be spent on resurfacing of primary and secondary roads.

The interstate work mostly will also be resurfacing, according to John Walsh, the chief engineer for planning, location and design at the S.C. Department of Transportation.

For the stimulus dollars, the S.C. DOT selected projects that were high on its priority list but did not require the more complicated work sometimes involved in interstate maintenance, such as adjusting bridges or acquiring right of way.

Other interstate projects expected to be bid out in the first $50 million:

  • Portions of I-95 in both directions in Clarendon County.
  • Part of I-20 eastbound in Aiken County.
  • Sections of I-26 in Charleston County in both directions near the Charleston peninsula.

The stimulus bill will add tremendously to the state’s highway maintenance work and to the number of projects that S.C. DOT must contract out and oversee, Walsh said.

“We’re basically doubling our construction program in the same year,” he said.