There are two basic ways to look at the score of cranes on the Holy City’s skyline: They’re solid evidence of an economic boom that continues to pump in money. Or they’re a blight that litters the horizon and is sucking the uniqueness out of a Charleston that attracts millions of visitors a year.
Most people probably hold both views, but we worry the overdevelopment of Charleston’s peninsula is creating long-term problems that will have to be dealt with constantly: overcrowding, more traffic, increased congestion, more flooding and even crappier roads. Bottom line: All of these cranes portend so many changes to Charleston that they are upsetting the balance between having a charming place that attracts visitors and residents to becoming another concrete jungle. These cranes are developmental canaries, and we need to be wary.
Charleston City Council needs to take action and figure out some way to rein in the flock of soaring steel cranes. In a city that has seen a Black exodus of homeowners due to gentrification, it is time to stanch the flow of Charleston’s diverse peoples by doing something innovative.
We’ve suggested a crane registration fee on the big-city developers who come in with gobs of cash and zip out without experiencing the damage they do with their concrete alleyways of buildings. Then, that money could be flipped to help provide affordable housing to help Charleston’s working class live closer to their jobs. Think of the benefits of more police, firefighters, teachers, cleaners and cooks living in town, instead of spending hours in traffic.
We’re told the mayor is now briefed on the crane count by city officials, who also are gathering information to figure out how to calculate the direct and indirect costs of cranes to city taxpayers and tie any fees to that number, per state law. These are great first baby steps. Now, let’s demand that our city council members make something happen — sooner than later.
As you can see, there are more cranes now than there were in April when we started the crane count:
Week of Aug. 23: 19 cranes in 10 locations (-1)
Week of Aug. 16: 20 cranes in 10 locations (-2)
Week of Aug. 9: 22 cranes in 10 locations (+0)
Week of Aug. 2: 22 cranes in 10 locations (-1)
Week of July 26: 23 cranes in 10 locations (+0)
Week of July 19: 23 cranes in locations (+2)
Week of July 12: 20 cranes in 10 locations (+1)
Week of July 5: 19 cranes in nine locations (+0)
Week of June 28: 19 cranes in nine locations (+1)
Week of June 21: 18 cranes in nine locations (+0)
Week of June 14: 18 cranes in nine locations (+0)
Week of June 7: 18 cranes in nine locations (+1)
Week of May 31: 17 cranes in nine locations (+0)
Week of May 24: 17 cranes in nine locations (-2)
Week of May 17: 19 cranes in nine locations (+0)
Week of May 10: 19 cranes in nine locations (+0)
Week of May 3: 19 cranes in nine locations (+2)
Week of April 26: 17 cranes in eight locations
Possible next project: A weekly bounce report to illustrate how Charleston’s streets are a complete mess. Want to help? Go online to become a member who supports Charleston City Paper.