Statement | Washington, DC | June 16, 2023

Statement on Review of Plans for Union Pier

The National Trust for Historic Preservation strongly supports the decision, announced today by the South Carolina Ports Authority, to halt the controversial redevelopment of Charleston’s Union Pier while planners gather community feedback and comprehensively reevaluate existing plans. Ports Authority officials stated that the process will last one year and will be conducted with the Joe Riley Center for Livable Communities at the College of Charleston.

Union Pier, a 65-acre waterfront site along the Cooper River in downtown Charleston, is former marshland that has been used for maritime shipping, industrial production, and port operations since the early 18th century. The pier’s current owner, South Carolina Ports Authority, had proposed selling the land to a private developer for a new mixed-use district that could threaten the area’s historic character, viewsheds, and climate resilience. Those threats led the National Trust for Historic Preservation in May 2023 to place Charleston’s historic neighborhoods on the list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

“This decision carries forward Charleston’s legacy of thoughtful leadership in planning and preservation in ways that honor its past and support a sustainable future. This community-driven process will provide a national and internationally significant model for progress and growth complemented by the protection of the delicate coastal ecology,” said Katherine Malone-France, Chief Preservation Officer, National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Today’s good news would not have been possible without the collective efforts of preservation advocates, community groups, and history-loving Charleston residents who spoke at planning meetings, contacted elected officials, and more generally raised their voices in support of a community-centered planning effort. Much credit is also specifically owed to a coalition led by the Preservation Society of Charleston, Historic Charleston Foundation, and the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League which advocated for a process that was highly inclusive of the local community. The National Trust looks forward to working with this coalition, the City of Charleston, the Joe Riley Center, and other local entities in supporting this important effort.

This comprehensive and inclusive approach will help create a plan for Union Pier that responds to current and future needs of residents while also respecting the city’s unique history and architecture.


The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. | @savingplaces

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