Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sponsored Fall decorations on East Montague to benefit needy families

The Olde North Charleston Merchants Association and the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department are collaborating to decorate the Olde Village section of East Montague Avenue with decorative grapevine wreaths for Fall. Proceeds from wreath sponsorships will benefit the City of North Charleston’s Christmas Charity for needy families.

Schools, community groups, churches, businesses and individuals are invited to participate in this second annual beautification effort. Wreath sponsors may purchase a 24” grapevine wreath with two sided orange ribbon for $25 and personalize it with decorations of their choosing, or sponsors may choose to purchase a pre-decorated wreath for $50. Past participants have the option of redecorating last year’s wreath for $15.

Wreaths with sponsor name will be displayed on light poles lining the Olde Village section of East Montague Avenue throughout October and November. The deadline for wreath purchases is 5:00pm on Monday, September 24, 2012. Wreaths should be decorated and ready to hang by October 1. To sponsor a wreath or for more information contact the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at (843) 740-5854 or

Shipwatch Square: its history and current redevelopment updates

Update #7 September 20, 2012
An image of the cleared site taken from the former Naval Hospital.

Update #6 August 28, 2102
All of the building on the site have been cleared and grass has begun to grow.

Update #5 April 9, 2012
A Post and Courier article by Robert Behre from a recent interview with North Charleston Mayor R. Keith Summey.

Update #4 March 2, 2012
Demolition continues at Shipwatch Square with only a few buildings remaining.
Update #3 January 12, 2012
Building 2, which was parallel to Meeting Street Road (former home to Woolworth's and Belks) has been demolished, as has the bank at the intersection of McMillan and Rivers Avenue.

Update #2 November 21, 2011
Demolition continues.
Update #1 November 8, 2011
The demolition of the old Shipwatch Square is ongoing.  The building that formerly housed a Chinese restaurant and the Howard Johnson restaurant has been demolished, as well as the shopping center building parallel to McMillan Avenue.  The contractors are currently demolishing the bank building (former home to Wachovia, and before that South Carolina National Bank) at the corner of McMillan and Rivers Avenues.

The removal of asbestos containing materials from the remaining two shopping center buildings is proceeding.  Afterwards, the final two buildings will be demolished.

Please note that Shipwatch’s last remaining tenant, “Citi Trends,” has relocated to the shopping center on Rivers Avenue at Aviation Avenue.  Auto Sound Specialist (747-0047) remains in business at its current location, as does “Lord of the Harvest” in the former movie theater at the corner of McMillan Avenue and Meeting Street Road.

November 7, 2011

History of Shipwatch Square

In 1895, long before Pinehaven Shopping Center, the City of Charleston established 600-acre Chicora Park north of the its boundaries along the Inland Trail.  The Trail itself was a vital route of commerce, carrying goods between the sea coast and the Midlands of South Carolina.  Over the next decade, the United States Navy took possession of 1,575 acres along the west bank of the Cooper River, consuming the Park through its expansion.  Eventually, a 20-acre site was developed just outside of the Naval Base gates for the Pinehaven Sanatorium, a health care facility for tuberculosis patients.

In 1958, the Pinehaven Shopping Center was built on the site of the former sanatorium and consisted of 200,000 square feet of retail business. Pinehaven’s landmark structure was a central circle tower that bore the its name and held all of the lighting for the parking lot hidden within the top circle of the tower.
The shopping center opened for business September 17, 1959. Two grocery stores, a national retail clothier, one national five and dime store, one large local retailer, one bank and numerous small businesses made up the complex.  In future years a cinema was added.  The shopping center was very successful for decades and the occupancy of tenants remained high.  As the area continued to develop from the presence of the Naval Base, the center was renamed Shipwatch Square.

Although the shopping center began to decline with the establishment of area indoor shopping malls, a major blow came when the US Navy announced the closing of the Naval Base and Shipyard in North Charleston, displacing 12,000 civilian and 8,000 military employees. This was a large economic setback to the immediate area as many of the workers would use the retail outside of the base to shop and dine. Winn Dixie was the last major tenant, vacating the center in 2005 as part of the chain’s closure of all its grocery stores in South Carolina. The rest of the center maintained a few lower tier establishments, but was generally unoccupied.

In 2002, the City created a new vision for the 3,000 acres south of I-526 and east of I-26 from Cosgrove Avenue to the Cooper River known as the Noisette Community Master Plan. Real estate ventures began to rise as investors bought into the City’s new vision. Shipwatch Square was purchased by new stakeholders who had an ambitious development plan. However, the US economy began to slip in 2008 and the new development did not progress.  The City was patient in encouraging private enterprises, but in the end, redevelopment was not initiated.

Redevelopment begins

The City of North Charleston purchased 16.4 acres of the center in 2010, leaving the corner property for the former developer to negotiate a sale with a drug store.  After the developer’s negotiations fell through, the City acquired the final parcel on the corner of McMillan and Rivers Avenues in 2011.

North Charleston has created a number of conceptual plans for the property and is working with the surrounding businesses and an adjacent church to find the appropriate mix of tenants and financing to make the redevelopment successful. The City intends to create a complete master plan and secure development partners for its implementation.

The City approved a lease with Walgreens and a local developer to become the first tenant in the new center. The drug store chain will lease the property for 3 years and thereafter have the option to purchase the parcel located at the corner of McMillan and Rivers Avenues.  The City is also in negotiations with a bank to locate on site.

The City feels that housing should be major component of the development to attract residents into the immediate area. The North Charleston Housing Authority is investigating building its new offices at Shipwatch Square. In addition, the city has received interest in relocating to the site from Charleston County Library, Clemson University Extension Service, Fetter Health Care Clinics, Charleston County Health Services, the Pinehaven Post Office, and the Small Business Administration.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the area around Shipwatch Square has been classified as a food desert.  The Mayor and City Council are committed to attracting a full-service grocery as the anchor tenant of the location’s redevelopment.  This effort may also include community or urban gardens, farmers markets and educational activities for the community. The City is currently in discussion with several grocery store chains.

The City of North Charleston remains very optimistic about the success of the redevelopment.  This is a wonderful opportunity to create a new community in the south end of the city and provide the residents a deserving quality place to work, live, play, and shop.

Oak Terrace Preserve residents launch North Charleston's community video series

The City of North Charleston has released two video shorts, which depict residents of the City's Oak Terrace Preserve neighborhood discussing quality of life issues in their community. The videos, entitled "Community", and "Schools" were recorded in August, following a voluntary, unscripted format. The videos, on the City's YouTube Channel, are the first in a series of videos chronicling the progress of revitalization in the neighborhood.

"The videos illustrate a major impact of the City's efforts at attracting young homebuyers to Park Circle," says North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey. "The influx of young families moving to the Park Circle area, and North Charleston, has been impressive. It's a sign that our revitalization strategy is working, even in relatively lean economic times. The number of young, white collar professionals coming to Oak Terrace, and the greater Park Circle area, has been fueled by major employers, as well as up-and-coming entrepreneurs".

Oak Terrace Preserve is a City-owned green residential project, which is privately developed by a team of builders and architects. Homes at the neighborhood are market rate, and combine the latest innovations in sustainable living with neo-traditional neighborhood design.

Oak Terrace Preserve residents comment on their community's recognition as one of the nation's 'coolest, trendiest' neighborhoods, with its unique combination of green living, quality of life, and central location.

Parents and future parents see family-friendly Oak Terrace Preserve as uniquely positioned for their children's education, as the nationally-ranked Academic Magnet High School and the upcoming arts-infused elementary are within walking distance of the neighborhood.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fire Department to host Pancake Breakfast to benefit Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy

Join us at Fire Station 5 for a pancake breakfast with all proceeds benefiting the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy.

School Resource Officers make impact at summer camps

The 2012 School Resource Officer (SRO) Summer Camp program integrated curriculum and instruction from SROs who interacted daily with children 5 to 12 years old. In total, 480 children were involved in the program. SROs were paramount in the organization and execution of our recreational activities and cultural art projects as well.

In 2012, camp sites had organized instructional time for SROs to address campers of different age groups. Curriculum was tailored to each age group and covered law related topics, such as Shoplifting, Bullying, School Offenses, Internet Safety, Street Safety, Gang Activity, DUI/Drug Safety, and Constitutional Law.

School Resource Officers in our camps provided early detection and prevention of behavioral issues and ensured positive community relations between the Police Department and the community.

SROs participated in the following camps:
Armory Park
Jeanene Batten
Murray Hill
Minor Crosby
Felix Pinckney
Charleston Farms
Stall High School

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

North Charleston to Host Free Concert by USAF Academy Band’s Falconaires Jazz Ensemble

The City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department is proud to host a free evening concert by the United States Air Force Academy Band’s Falconaires Jazz Ensemble at the Sterett Hall Auditorium on the former Charleston Naval Base on Friday, October 19, at 7:00pm. The concert will feature big band jazz under the leadership of Master Sergeant Jason Crowe.

As one of twelve Air Force jazz ensembles, the Falconaires have brought the great sounds of big band jazz to national audiences for more than 50 years. The 18 professional Airmen-musicians in the “Glenn Miller” style big band follow in a long blue line of talented Air Force Academy bandsmen who are dedicated to serving our nation and representing the young officers in training at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, CO. The ensemble specializes in the best of past and present by performing traditional and contemporary big band jazz. To this mix, “Falcs” members add their own compositions and fresh orchestrations. The band performs annually for more than 50,000 people at civic and military functions, public concerts, and festivals, including the International Association of Jazz Educators’ National Conference, the Music Educators National Conference’s National Convention, and Musicfest Canada. A driving force in the jazz world, the Air Force Academy Band’s Falconaires play a major role in cultivating our national heritage through America’s only indigenous musical genre, jazz.

The Falconaires Jazz Ensemble concert is free, but advance tickets are required. Tickets may be obtained by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope with request to: Tickets, City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department, PO Box 190016, North Charleston, SC, 29419-9016. Please limit 6 tickets per mail-in request. Tickets are also available for pick up Monday through Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm, from the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department office on the second floor of North Charleston City Hall, located at 2500 City Hall Lane, North Charleston, SC 29406. Unclaimed seats will be available to non-ticket holders 15 minutes prior to concert time.

For more information about this concert or other programs and services offered by the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department, call 843-740-5854, email, or visit

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mayor Summey cooks breakfast to support the Teachers' Supply Closet

North Charleston Mayor R. Keith Summey served up free breakfast at Cork Neighborhood Bistro on Friday, September 14 to benefit the Teachers' Supply Closet (TSC), but donations were accepted.

94.3 WSC morning host, Kelly Golden, hosted her show live from the event.

Mayor Summey began planning the fundraiser after meeting with TSC leaders over the summer about their expansion plans that serve greater North Charleston area schools. However, the event was more important than ever. The Teachers’ Supply Closet suffered extensive water damage and loss of supplies on Tuesday, August 28 when heavy rains and flooding throughout the area caused a blockage in a drain pipe which flooded the roof and subsequently the ‘Closet.’

“We have been working hard to get our facility back up and running and are so grateful to Mayor Summey and his staff for holding this event to help us recover. We look forward to meeting some new supporters!” said TSC Executive Director Deborah Hanlon.

Teachers' Supply Closet (TSC) is a non-profit organization that provides free school supplies to teachers in the Tri-County area who work at schools where 88 percent of the students are on the free or reduced lunch program. Currently 34 schools at the 88% poverty index (based on free and reduced lunch program statistics) from Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties are invited to shop.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

North Charleston students experience athletics at The Citadel

Over the next 6 weeks, The Citadel Athletics Department and the City of North Charleston are partnering to give participants in North Charleston’s 14 afterschool programs The Citadel Athletics experience. The experience coincides with North Charleston Recreation Department’s fall curriculum for afterschool programming, focused on leadership, dedication, goals, and positive life choices.

Approximately 150 children between the ages of 5-12 years old will visit The Citadel and observe the Bulldogs football team at practice while they prepare for the weekend’s game. Additionally, they will take tours of McAlister Field House and Johnson Hagood Stadium and will become familiar with The Citadel campus.

Visits will be made to The Citadel every Wednesday from 4:00pm to 5:15pm until October 24.

“This is an amazing opportunity for the children of North Charleston. It gives exposure and firsthand experience of The Citadel and the opportunities available after high school graduation,” said North Charleston Recreation Program Director Trish Elsie.

“This is a perfect partnership for The Citadel Athletics Department. Community outreach and involvement has been something we have been focusing on recently and we could not have asked for a better partner than the City of North Charleston Recreation Department,” said The Citadel Athletics Marketing Coordinator Ryan Powell.

Monday, September 3, 2012

North Charleston Kicks off Dinner Theatre Series on Sept 14

The Gentleman Pirate @ Piccolo Spoleto
Flickr user Chrys

Another fabulous season of dinner theatre kicks off in North Charleston on Friday, September 14, with The Gentleman Pirate, presented by Rodney Lee Rogers of PURE Theatre. Dinner for the evening is catered by Embassy Suites and features an entrée of Grilled Cypress Chicken served with garlic infused tomato concasse and herb aioli.

Written and performed by PURE Theatre co-founder, Rodney Lee Rogers, The Gentleman Pirate is a one-of-a kind, interactive theatrical event that brings to life the trials and glories of Stede Bonnet, also known as “The Gentleman Pirate.” The play focuses on Bonnet's 1718 trial, in which he gave his own defense and was, in the end, sentenced to death. Rogers referenced the existing trial transcripts to inform the production’s script, filling any factual gaps in Bonnet’s story with his Shakespearean-influenced imagination. Patrons have the opportunity to participate in a Q&A session following the performance, where Rogers answers questions in character. Charleston City Paper critic, Jon Santiago, gives the production an “A” rating, calling it “great fun, splendidly performed and exhaustively researched.” The show has been performed everywhere from school cafeterias to the deck of the USS Yorktown, and enjoyed two sold out Piccolo Spoleto runs.

Working in multiple disciplines of dramatic form over the past 24 years, writer/actor/filmmaker Rodney Lee Rogers received the SC Arts Commission’s Playwriting Fellowship in 2010 and was awarded a SC Film Commission grant for his short film Downturn. His plays and one-acts plays have been produced in New York City, Seattle, Charlotte, and Charleston and include HOGS, The Tragedian, Killing Chickens, Fairgrounds, What Comes Around, Tell, Cowboys, and A Waffle House Christmas. His feature film Steaming Milk won runner-up Best Actor and Best Director awards at the 1997 Seattle International Film Festival and was chosen as a “Best of the Fest” of both The Seattle Times and The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Theatre directing credits include Tell, Jesus Hopped the “A” Train, What Comes Around, HOGS, and The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Acting credits for the stage include The Pillowman, The Lonesome West, Cloud Tectonics, Underneath the Lintel, Eurydice, and The Tragedian. On television he has appeared on One Tree Hill, Medicine Ball, and Army Wives. He was voted Best Actor by Charleston City Paper for 2009 and 2010. Co-founders of PURE Theatre, he and his wife, artistic director Sharon Graci, live in Charleston with their five children.

The Dinner Theatre will be presented at the Charleston Area Convention Center Ballroom (adjacent to the North Charleston Performing Arts Center) at 5001 Coliseum Drive in North Charleston. The ballroom doors open at 7:00pm for dinner. Tickets are $40 per person. Group discounts are available. Ticket price includes dinner, play, and gratuity. Parking is free. A cash bar will be available. To purchase tickets or to request more information, contact Pam Smith at 843.740.5847 or email For information on additional programs and events, visit the Cultural Arts section of the City’s website at