Horizon District unveils plan for new community

  • Monday, May 26, 2014

Charleston’s western entrance along the Ashley River will soon welcome an innovative research community connected by wide, urbane avenues of residences, offices, research and lab space, storefronts, restaurants and some of the best waterfront views on the peninsula.

Preliminary master plan concepts for The Horizon District, located between Lockwood Boulevard, Hagood Avenue and Spring Street, were shown to the City of Charleston’s Board of Architectural Review (BAR). Almost a decade of local, inclusive planning has gone into the Horizon development strategy, including direction from the city, surrounding neighborhood leaders, the medical district and biomedical research leaders. This BAR review is an official first step to fine-tune development plans, infrastructure, architecture and other elements.

“This is a unique opportunity to create a vibrant, mixed-use medical research community and thereby accommodate the future needs of Charleston’s important medical district,” said Michael Maher, CEO of the Horizon Project Foundation, Inc. “Horizon will have an open, walkable design that will be very similar to the vibe and experience of Second Sunday on King.”

Maher said years of strategic planning for the site have been very productive. He said it has been worth the time and investment to ensure goals are met for urban revitalization, economic development and urban design that inspire medical research innovation.

“Successful research communities are just that: true communities where people live, learn and earn,” said Maher. “They must meet the specific needs of the target market while still feeling like a natural extension of the surrounding city.”

City of Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. said Horizon helps put Charleston in a unique position for growth. “With residences and all the amenities needed such as a workplace, groceries and restaurants within walking distance and a spot by the Ashley River, it will attract those who want to work in the biomedical field and live in an extraordinary location,” said Mayor Riley. “We look forward with great excitement to the development of this community.”

The Horizon Project will pace development over 12 to 15 years. During that time, building will coincide with prime market conditions to accommodate mixed-use residential, office, research, retail, restaurants and structured parking.

Roughly 51 percent of the development will be comprised of multi-family residential. This will include workforce housing, market-driven condominiums and housing to meet demand at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

Approximately 30 percent of Horizon will be made up of a strategic combination of traditional office, technology, research, incubator/accelerator and educational spaces. Collectively, these uses will create more than 3,000 jobs in the district. Maher noted the recent announcement by medical research group Aeterna Zentaris to locate in the Charleston area. He said other research firms are eyeing the region for relocation because of local commitments to build and promote a research community such as Horizon.

Another 10 percent of the development will consist of street-front retail, including a variety of food service, restaurants and entertainment. This component should create 500 jobs in the community. Another 9 percent of the district will be made up of continuation and expansion of existing uses on the site, including accommodations and retail.

In addition, Maher said infrastructure improvement planning for the site is underway. Improvements will be assisted by $200 million in tax-increment financing (TIF).

Horizon’s master plan includes design and public access elements to set a walkable, healthy ambiance for the community. A bright and active main street will form the heart of the district, with shops, restaurants and outdoor cafes. Meanwhile, a network of pedestrian, bike and auto cross connections will link the peninsula’s greater West Side community to the waterfront at Brittlebank Park. Plans also include developing multiple means to safely connect Horizon to the medical district across the Septima Clark/U.S. 17 crosstown and Spring Street corridors.

The public is encouraged to learn more about Horizon, ask questions and participate by visiting www.charlestonhorizon.com.

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