Charleston City Council at a Tuesday night meeting unanimously passed a formal measure that would allow the City of Charleston to create a King Street Business Improvement District (BID), moving the program, which has been discussed since the 1970s, one step closer to fruition.
The BID was called for in the city’s recently adopted comprehensive plan and has had a large amount of support from business owners in the affected corridor, as well as residents of the peninsula. The idea behind the program is to improve the pedestrian experience along King Street — from beautification to adding services for tourists and residents. Business owners along the corridor would also have more say in how funds are specifically spent.
“I’m going to be a big advocate — I have been since long before I was elected — to support the very local businesses of this community that basically put Charleston on the map,” said council member Carol Jackson. “King Street has been a financial challenge to small and local businesses … certainly in the last decade, and I really feel like this has got to be a cooperative effort.”
Questions still remain surrounding management of the BID, many of which were posed by council members during discussion at Tuesday’s meeting.
“A couple questions I have are, ‘Who’s going to manage the day-to-day operations of the BID?’ ‘ Who’s going to lead the charge from a strategic direction from the city?’ ‘What safeguards do we have in place for this particular BID to ensure we don’t make it harder for not just small business owners but particularly minority and women-owned business owners who want to do business on King Street?'” said council member Jason Sakran.
Council members said questions like these would likely and hopefully be addressed before the bill goes up for second reading at the next City Council meeting, set for Jan. 11, 2022.
Tuesday’s meeting marked the last meeting for this iteration of Charleston City Council, as newcomers Stephen Bowden, set to replace Harry Griffin, and Caroline Parker, set to replace Jackson, will be seated at the next Council Meeting.
Also taking place on Jan. 11 is the special election for the City Council member who will represent Daniel Island. If a candidate gets 50% plus one or more that night, they’ll be sworn in at the next meeting. Otherwise, there will be a runoff, and they’ll be sworn in at the next meeting thereafter.
City Council members also voted 8-4 to give initial approval to making the city’s Commission on Equity, Inclusion and Racial Conciliation permanent, with council members Harry Griffin, Ross Appel, Mike Seekings and Kevin Shealy voting against the measure.
Votes in favor came from council members Sakran, Jackson, Robert Mitchell, Karl Brady, William Dudley Gregorie, Keith Waring, Peter Shahid and Mayor John Tecklenburg.
“It was the effort, the conversations, the pressure,” local Black Lives Matter leader Marcus McDonald said on the change in votes since the measure was last seen in council chambers. “I’ve spoken to every single council member since it was last voted down. There’s a point where you have to start paying attention to what people are saying.”