SC Ports, City of Charleston share new plan for Union Pier

June 20, 2023

City-led, community-driven planning process going forward

In partnership with the City of Charleston, South Carolina Ports is bringing forth a new city-led and community-driven planning process to guide the redevelopment of Union Pier.

Following extensive community engagement over the past year, the City of Charleston and South Carolina Ports have reached an agreement that establishes a city-led planning process, requires engagement with third-party consultants and extends the planning timeline.

“It remains our shared goal to transform Union Pier into a beautiful neighborhood that blends with the city and offers significant public assets for Charlestonians. We now have a new agreement that puts the city and community at the forefront of the planning process,” SC Ports President and CEO Barbara Melvin said. “We listened to the community, and with this new process, we believe we will have a new plan that we can all embrace.”

Officials and stakeholders gathered in support of the new Union Pier plan. (Photo/SCPA/English Purcell)

The Union Pier planning process will now be led by the city, community and stakeholders, and in coordination with third-party consultants.

The Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Center for Livable Communities at the College of Charleston will be engaged to guide and vet plans. The National Trust for Historic Preservation will also be engaged in the process.

SC Ports will defer its request to the Planning Commission to allow for more time and community input. This will all occur alongside extensive public engagement.

Notable quotes from partners:

“This agreement is a huge win for everyone who loves Charleston. I want to thank the port for listening when our residents spoke, and our residents for speaking so clearly. Now, let’s get to work, and make sure that this is the kind of project our whole city can be proud of.”

— Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg

“We are honored to be able to help facilitate an inclusive, community-driven process to support SC Ports and the City of Charleston in achieving a shared goal of creating an outcome for Union Pier that truly benefits Charleston.”

— Kendra Stewart, Professor and Director, Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Center for Livable Communities, College of Charleston

“The Coastal Conservation League promotes thoughtful, balanced development and land conservation in the right areas, at the right scale. By working together, we have found a better path forward for the planning of Union Pier. We will work to ensure that we have more open space and coastal resiliency in the plan.”

— Faith Rivers James, Coastal Conservation League Executive Director

“Historic Charleston Foundation applauds the Port’s monumental decision to hit pause and engage in a community-focused planning process. We stand ready to work alongside the community, city, and SPA to determine a future for Union Pier that aligns with the needs of our citizens and the character of our world-renowned, historic city.”

— Winslow Hastie, President and CEO, Historic Charleston Foundation

“We are optimistic that this shift is a good faith effort that will result in a civic-minded plan that puts community values first.”

— Brian Turner, President and CEO, Preservation Society of Charleston

“Representing over 160,000 professionals, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce works to support a thriving economy. The redevelopment of Union Pier offers so many opportunities for our city, such as adding more commercial spaces to support our economy, creating green spaces to boost quality of life and building much-needed affordable housing on the peninsula. We look forward to seeing this vision realized.”

— Bryan Derreberry, President and CEO, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce

“Explore Charleston wholeheartedly supports the South Carolina State Ports Authority’s initiative to seek increased community input for the development of Union Pier, with the esteemed College of Charleston Riley Center leading the effort. This unique opportunity presents a chance to collaboratively create something truly exceptional for the Charleston community, harnessing our collective vision and ensuring a legacy that will benefit generations to come.”

— Helen Hill, CEO of Explore Charleston

“We will continue to work with the Port and advocate that Union Pier include housing for all, is a resilient benefit to the city, and that Union Pier becomes a vibrant center.”

— Josh Dix, Government Affairs Director, Charleston Trident Association of Realtors


About South Carolina Ports Authority

South Carolina Ports owns and operates marine terminals at the Port of Charleston and two rail-served inland ports in Greer and Dillon. As the 8th largest U.S. container port, SC Ports connects port-dependent businesses throughout the Southeast and beyond to global markets. SC Ports proactively invests in infrastructure ahead of demand to provide reliable service, efficient operations, cargo capacity, an expansive rail network and the deepest harbor on the East Coast at 52 feet. SC Ports is a vital economic engine for South Carolina, with port operations supporting 1 in 10 jobs statewide. Learn more: