[image-1]Plans for the future of the Sgt. Jasper site cleared another hurdle Wednesday evening, gaining preliminary approval from Charleston’s Board of Architectural Review.
Returning to the BAR following an initial presentation in late September, architect Joe Antunovich presented the updated designs for the new Jasper project. The mixed-use complex, which is probably the largest project the board has ever evaluated, will include 75,000 square feet of office space, 25,000 square feet of retail space on the lower level, and a parking garage containing 536 spaces. Antunovich told the board that the complex would contain 222 residential units. Last July, Charleston City Council voted to rezone the Sgt. Jasper site to allow for the construction of as many as 324 new residential units. If the Beach Company had sought the maximum density allowed at the site, they would have been required to create approximately 24 affordable housing units.
Multiple plans have been proposed for the Sgt. Jasper site over the almost three years since the apartment building was emptied. The first proposal, deferred by the city’s Planning Commission, included the creation of 454-unit Planned Unit Development, a hidden parking garage with more than 700 spaces, and 35,000 square feet of commercial space. That proposal was followed in May 2015 with the initial “Building in the Park” design, which reduced the number of proposed residential units to 80, spread out within an 18-story tower. The current plans for the Jasper site will stand 12 stories tall at its tallest point, reaching 159-feet.
After the “Building in the Park” design and a subsequent modified plan that reduced the project’s height to 13 stories were deferred and ultimately denied by the BAR, the Beach Company filed a court appeal. That legal battle ultimately ended with a compromise between the city and the developers, which granted an updated Jasper proposal conceptual approval from the BAR in exchange for a nearby park area being set aside for the city. Now, it seems the BAR and those behind the current designs for the project have reached some common ground regarding what should take shape on the peninsula.
[image-2]“We’ve respected the gateway to the Historic District. We’ve continued the development of Broad [Street] along to the west in a high-quality manner,” Antunovich told the board Wednesday evening. While members of the BAR approved of the current design, representatives from local preservation groups voiced their concerns regarding the planned use of pre-cast materials for the structures and the overall height and visibility of the project. Kristopher King of the Preservation Society of Charleston raised concerns over the proposed parking garage, which he worries will contribute to light pollution for the surrounding neighborhood. Echoing many of King’s concerns, Chris Cody with the Historic Charleston Foundation called for the current design for the new Jasper building to be deferred.
Before finally approving of the design, BAR members voiced their confidence in the use of pre-cast materials for the buildings, indicating that the new Jasper complex could establish a new precedent for major structures in the city.
“This project will probably become a model for how we might proceed with other buildings that might strike the size that the Jasper has,” said board member Jerome Clemons.
Beach Company CEO John Darby released a statement immediately following the BAR’s vote, saying, “We are looking forward to advancing the plan to the third and final phase of the BAR review process. There is no other location on the peninsula — or possibly the Eastern Seaboard — like the Sgt. Jasper site. The city of Charleston is the No. 1 city in the world, the surrounding neighborhood is one of the most desirable on the peninsula, and the city’s Board of Architectural Review has high expectations for the use of quality materials on this special waterfront project.”