After years of fits and starts, the owners of the Magnolia tract have begun preliminary construction on the site.   Often called the “Bridge to Nowhere” the Magnolia tract is located on the upper peninsula near U.S. Interstate 26, close to the Ravenel Bridge. The city spent more than $8 million in 2010 to build the bridge which is currently only used by pedestrians.

The Bridge to Everywhere

The Houston real estate developer that owns Magnolia tract has started calling it the “Bridge to Everywhere.”  “That’s been our focus, and that’s how we see it,” said Welden Johnston, vice president of Highland Resources Inc. that oversees the project.  Construction began recently with little fanfare with the extension of a sewer line to the 182-acre site between King Street and the Ashley River.

The whole goal is to quietly get to work,” Johnston told the Post & Courier.  He said the firm’s view concerning the development of Magnolia tract is to “under-promise and overdeliver. We want to develop credibility by doing it, not just talking about it,” he added.

Highland Resources acquired the land through U.S. Bankruptcy Court auction and through a series of private sales in March 2018. The developer met with nearby residents, state and federal regulators and local elected officials to get the stalled redevelopment project back on track.

The list goes on,” said Johnston.  “This is not just something that Highland is trying to do on its own.  It really takes a village to bring Magnolia to life.”

First Phase of Development of Infrastructure and Soil Remediation in the Works

The first phase of development will be to install underground utilities and other infrastructure.  Highland plans to remediate the soil on the former industrial site up to residential development standards by laying down a fabric-like barrier and another layer of soil.

Tentative Plans to Start Building in 2020 on the South End of the Tract

Highland hopes to start building the first structures in 2020 on the south end of the 182-acre site and eventually build toward the north edge over the next 10 to 15 years. The developer will assess the market demand for a mix-use development of residential properties, retail space, office buildings, and hotels, as well as plans for a 20-acre park.  “I think you’ll see a combination of multiple uses come out of the ground first,” Johnston said.  “I think there’s so much potential for all the product types.”

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said he sees many “public benefits” with the development of the site including affordable housing, an expanded tax base, an environmental cleanup, and “a park along the water’s edge, which will be a fantastic view.”

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