The Sergeant Jasper redevelopment controversy is a sure sign of change for the old ways of developing property in Downtown Charleston. Old political alliances have splintered and new voices are speaking truth to power. We could not help but notice how vigorous John Tecklenburg has been on this issue. Your salmon sheets predicted that a candidate for mayor of Charleston would take the leading role in speaking for those who oppose a massive structure at the very gateway to our peninsula. Mr. Tecklenburg rightly sees the most recent plans as the “second kick of a mule” from which one finds no lesson.

We do not oppose the concept of redeveloping the Jasper site; it is legitimate to use our urban space for housing and commerce. As we all know, we weaken the quest for preserving green spaces in the countryside if we insist upon a park as the only use for the Broad and Barre space. Seems the Beach Company could have the best of both worlds by hosting some elegant housing and commercial facilities. Ginny Deerin correctly states that the redevelopment should be done in a “careful, deliberate and responsible manner.” The key problem is that we keep seeing development plans that include massive boxes of bricks and hundreds of parking spaces. Holy City citizens know and love their historic homes and gentle vistas. We welcomed a change to the skyline when the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist added a beautiful spire a few years ago; this is the sort of evolution we can support.

We wish the Beach Company well in their quest to resolve this matter. It seems that the right compromise will involve housing that may be akin to that of I’On — a serious dose of Charleston flavor in a cluster, surrounded by lots of green space. These homes would be highly desirable and compatible with the architecture of the nearby historic homes. One would think that a conservation easement on this green space would garner a handsome tax credit. It seems the egos of some architects and planners may get bruised, but they are going to have to give up seeking to put unwieldy fingerprints on the peninsula. If we all open our ears and eyes and observe clearly, we can appreciate that we are seeing a consensus about Downtown Charleston aesthetics. The recent comments at Burke High school reinforced the hundreds of signatures on petitions; these citizens are not the problem — they are the solution.

Give Charlestonians something beautiful, and they will go to bat for you, Beach Company. Allow control of the design to fall into the hands of those who will craft a handsome and profitable plan. The long and short of it — pun intended — is that the Sergeant Jasper was born in controversy, but it may find rebirth in glory if the nimble and quick John Darby redirects his team toward a neo-traditional design. Get the buy-in from the Preservation Society of Charleston and Historic Charleston Foundation; with the nod from these two key groups, the Beach Company should be able to offer a path to a solution — one that will hold them in an honored position. Let’s look to the change of the cathedral’s spire as inspiration for compromise that seeks a higher purpose, one that pulls a community together and blesses us all greatly.

Mercury newspaper racks are located at the following locations:

The Meeting Street Inn

Clair's Service Station at 334 Folly Rd.

Harris Teeter on Houston-Northcutt Blvd.

The Square Onion in I'On

Mt. Pleasant Library on Mathis Ferry Rd.