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West Ashley, the area across the Ashley River from peninsular Charleston, offers a change of pace from some of downtown’s more tourist-centric areas of town. Home to more than 40 percent of the city’s population, the area boasts parks, restaurants, breweries and shopping catered to locals.ExploreKnown to some as the “birthplace of South Carolina,” West Ashley is home to the well-preserved colonial village, Ch...
West Ashley, the area across the Ashley River from peninsular Charleston, offers a change of pace from some of downtown’s more tourist-centric areas of town. Home to more than 40 percent of the city’s population, the area boasts parks, restaurants, breweries and shopping catered to locals.
Known to some as the “birthplace of South Carolina,” West Ashley is home to the well-preserved colonial village, Charlestowne Landing. The 184-acre state park off of Old Towne Road offers an opportunity to explore both the city and the state’s modern origins. With walking trails, marsh views and a small zoo, the state park is a site visitors and locals alike can visit multiple times for different experiences.
Get a breath of fresh air on the 7.8 mile West Ashley Greenway which starts at U.S. Highway 17 and Wappoo Road and ends at Higgins Pier where anglers can cast a line. There’s another opportunity to fish off of Sam Rittenberg Boulevard at Northbridge Park.
For a different scenic walk, meander via boardwalk through marshes and coastal forest at the Stono River County Park in outer West Ashley.
Unlike other areas of the city, West Ashley is home to some large-scale retail spaces that make it an ideal place for furniture stores and other specialty shops.
Consign Charleston offers seemingly endless rows of second hand furniture, clothing and other treasures. The warehouse setting and fun mix of oldies music make it an ideal environment to spend an entire afternoon browsing for unique finds.
In West Ashley, residents and visitors alike can start their day at local coffee shops like Second State Coffee which provides unique seasonal offerings like jasmine lattes in the summer, or Highfalutin Coffee Roasters has a rotating menu of international coffees from nearly every continent.
When lunch time rolls around, West Ashley delivers a bevy of barbecue options. Swig & Swine, Home Team BBQ and Bessingers Barbecue all have outposts in the area. But vegetarians have options, too. Stop at Dellzville for vegan eats including a pizza topped with edible flowers.
Spend the afternoon drinking local beers at breweries including Frothy Beard Brewing Company on Sam Rittenberg Boulevard, Charlestowne Fermentory’s two locations and Edisto River Brewing Company in outer West Ashley.
Dinner and drinks take many forms in West Ashley. Avondale Wine & Cheese offers a lengthy wine list accompanied by charcuterie and tapas. Across the street, Triangle Char & Bar offers a more laid vibe with beers and bar bites. Further down the road, The Glass Onion serves up authentic southern soul food with menu items like shrimp and grits, gumbo and red rice.
Casual drinks are served at favorite Avondale watering holes Gene’s Haufbrau, and The Roost Bar ’n Grille. Near the Shadowmoss neighborhood try House of Brews and for live music head to Tin Roof on Magnolia Road.
Supermarket, El Molino offers all specialty ingredients needed for a Latin meal including homemade tortillas. But there’s always the option to bail on cooking last minute and order the street tacos they make in-house.
Just a few turns off Savannah Highway, as the car dealerships and fast-food joints give way to expansive views of saltwater and marsh, a one-story home is nestled among a thicket of wildlife.Four massive live oak trees anchor the lawn. Bird feeders dangle from the heavy branches. A gravel path snakes its way through nearly 100 species of flowering plants, trees, grasses, shrubs and more. Bees, butterflies and other animals flap and crawl, happy to call this place home.Elliotte Quinn has created an oasis in his front yard....
Just a few turns off Savannah Highway, as the car dealerships and fast-food joints give way to expansive views of saltwater and marsh, a one-story home is nestled among a thicket of wildlife.
Four massive live oak trees anchor the lawn. Bird feeders dangle from the heavy branches. A gravel path snakes its way through nearly 100 species of flowering plants, trees, grasses, shrubs and more. Bees, butterflies and other animals flap and crawl, happy to call this place home.
Elliotte Quinn has created an oasis in his front yard.
Quinn, who moved with his family to Edgewater Park three years ago, is part of a growing number of property owners choosing to embrace native planting. The technique uses specific plant species to attract native pollinators, ultimately creating a balanced food web.
Proponents argue native plants help battle erosion, reduce air pollution and promote biodiversity. Pesticides and lawn mowers are no longer needed as the ecosystem begins to keep itself in check.
Native yards vastly differ depending on the gardener. But they almost never fit the mold of a traditional American lawn — grassy and weedless, with a few evergreen bushes framing the front, said David Manger, owner of Roots and Shoots, a native plant nursery in West Ashley.
A native yard, particularly to the untrained eye, can look wild and unkempt, Manger said. Some property owners find themselves fighting community associations, disapproving neighbors or government ordinances to keep their chosen aesthetic.
Quinn can attest. The father of three, who works during the day as a lawyer specializing in construction defects, has received two complaints in under a year from Charleston County’s zoning and planning department.
Code enforcement officers told him the front yard violated an ordinance concerning weeds and rank vegetation. The most recent complaint — a June 7 letter shared with The Post and Courier — threatened a summons and hefty fine if he didn’t get rid of the “overgrowth.”
Both times, after Quinn explained his choice to cultivate the yard with native plants, county officials dropped the case.
Quinn’s passion for native planting exploded during summer 2020, in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. He started a vegetable garden with his young daughters, spurred by a childhood interest in wildlife and conservation.
They grew tomatoes and pumpkins, but worms began destroying the plants. Not wanting to spray the garden with pesticides, Quinn began reading about natural alternatives. He learned what he could plant to attract predator insects.
“That kind of spiraled off into something of an obsession with native plants,” he said.
Quinn ripped up the grass in his front yard, tossed out some seeds and bedded a few plants. He eventually hired someone to turn over the topsoil, put down compost and create gravel walkways.
The garden — which his daughters affectionately call “Quinn’s Meadow” — grew from there.
Green is the dominant color across the yard. But if a visitor sat on the front porch swing where Quinn likes to spend early mornings, they’d notice pockets of flowers interspersed with grass and fruit trees. They might hear the chirp of a painted bunting, delighting in its feathery rainbow of reds, blues and greens.
Manger, who used to lead the Charleston Permaculture Guild, said the number of people committing to sustainable agriculture has increased over the years. He’s noticed property owners beginning to steer away from typical yard spaces.
Edgewater Park, where Quinn lives, doesn’t have a homeowners association. But Manger said more people are coming to Roots and Shoots for advice on how to use native plants and work around stringent rules.
A compromise, for instance, could be to cover half of the yard with native plants and leave a small mowing strip of grass at the front, Manger said. This signals to neighbors the garden is both maintained and intentionally designed.
Quinn first received an email from Charleston County in September 2022, he said. A code enforcement officer told him they’d gotten a complaint about his yard and wanted to talk.
By the time they spoke on the phone, the officer had driven by the property and realized the design was intentional — not the result of a lazy homeowner. The officer closed out the complaint.
Months later, on June 7, county officials notified Quinn they’d received another complaint of vegetation overgrowth. An officer inspected the property and found him in violation of a county ordinance prohibiting uncultivated, dense overgrowth, the letter states.
The county gave Quinn until June 22 to remove it, threatening him with a summons and $1,087 fine. He responded with an eight-page letter explaining why his yard complies with the ordinance.
Quinn spends hours each month intentionally cultivating his garden — planting, weeding and watering new plants — he wrote. Many of the native plants are considered priority species by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Prohibiting a property owner from growing them would conflict with state environmental and resource protection statutes, Quinn said.
County officials relented, deciding he hadn’t violated any ordinances. They closed the case.
Quinn feels bothered by the whole situation but is grateful to have a legal background, he said. The homeowner wondered about others who might find themselves subject to similar scrutiny.
If a government went through with imposing a fine or issuing a summons for native planting, Quinn offered to represent them pro bono — to stand up for others who want to change how we do landscaping, he said.
A Charleston County spokeswoman refused to make anyone from its zoning and planning department available for an interview. The department takes all complaints seriously and investigates them, she said.
Manger hopes that as native planting becomes more common, code enforcement officers will have more tools in their arsenal to decipher a native lawn from an overgrown one.
“It’s definitely a fine line,” he said. “You’d kind of have to know what plants you’re looking at.”
Plenty of flowers and a general diversity of plant species are usually signs of a native yard, Manger said. But the best way to find out is by asking the gardener.
If you spoke to Quinn, he’d proudly show you his favorite flower: the swamp rose mallow. The native hibiscus, with big white petals and a dark-pink center, blooms only for a day.
If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a chimney bee pollinating the flower. This specialist insect primarily forages on hibiscus plants; Quinn knows he’d never see one if he had a traditional lawn.
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Big plans are approved for an affordable housing complex in West Ashley. The news sparked excitement among some neighbors, but concerns about traffic and the location as well.The city’s housing department, council members and neighbors agree, affordable housing is a need in West Ashley. But the development does come with a lot of planning and factors to consider when approving a plan.City of Charleston District 2 Councilmember Kevin Shealy says he initially did not support a 2020 zone change of t...
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Big plans are approved for an affordable housing complex in West Ashley. The news sparked excitement among some neighbors, but concerns about traffic and the location as well.
The city’s housing department, council members and neighbors agree, affordable housing is a need in West Ashley. But the development does come with a lot of planning and factors to consider when approving a plan.
City of Charleston District 2 Councilmember Kevin Shealy says he initially did not support a 2020 zone change of the property from general business to diverse residential.
“At that time and in 2020, there was a there was an office building sitting there and it’s actually a good location for an office building because people may not have to drive downtown to go to work. They can work and live in the same place which fits in with the West Ashley Revitalization,” Shealy says.
In March of 2023, the planning commission approved initial design plans for the complex. Shealy says he is an advocate for affordable housing, but wants to make sure it’s being put in practical places.
Jerry Gray, who has lived in the area for about 15 years, thinks incoming affordable housing is good news.
“Charleston can be the land of opportunity for a lot of people. And it’s also a window of opportunity for people who want to start out. So having some level of affordable housing where people can start out, start building an American Dream is critical for any neighborhood,” Gray says.
While he says he’s excited about the complex and the opportunities it can bring, he admits that traffic does cross his mind when a project like this is approved.
“Highway 61, we want to keep it as a scenic road. So yeah, traffic would be a problem and a consideration but again, there’s work around for that,” Gray says.
Shealy says he also worries about traffic for people who live in his district. He explains that the South Carolina Department of Transportation grades state roads on a scale from A to F.
“Ashley River Road during peak times grade is an E, and it’s very close to an F. And it probably will be one day unless we can do something about those roads. Hopefully we get some help from the state, state or county and maybe they can help with traffic flowing,” Shealy says.
Gray referenced how widening Glenn McConnell Parkway and the development of Bees Ferry Road has created a connector between areas and will solve some of the traffic woes.
“So those things can be overcome with good planning,” Gray believes.
Shealy says he wants to see hard workers in Charleston like firefighters, police officers and teachers live and enjoy the same area where they work.
“We need affordable housing in the right locations. Live work and play. That’s kind of what the West Ashley revitalization idea said. But that’s also a reason for us to make sure we have commercial properties out in West Ashley out in the western part of West Ashley so that everybody’s not driving to downtown, causing these traffic congestions,” Shealy says.
Shealy says while he initially did not approve of the housing complex, now that it’s on its way, he is dedicated to making sure it fits into the neighborhood.
Gray says he is excited to see more people enjoying the area and hopes the city does its due diligence incorporating plans for runoff, traffic and other aspects of development in the plans.
To learn more about the details of the complex, click here.
Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.
The City of Charleston Community Development Commission met Thursday to discuss the development of the old Piggly Wiggly lot on Sumar Street in West Ashley.CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The City of Charleston Community Development Commission discussed the development of the old Piggly Wiggly lot on Sumar Street Thursday night for the first time since last month after a city council meeting deferred discussions due to ...
The City of Charleston Community Development Commission met Thursday to discuss the development of the old Piggly Wiggly lot on Sumar Street in West Ashley.
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The City of Charleston Community Development Commission discussed the development of the old Piggly Wiggly lot on Sumar Street Thursday night for the first time since last month after a city council meeting deferred discussions due to a split vote.
The meeting lasted for three hours as commissioners argued back and forth, with some advocating for green space to be the focus, and others wanting the project to focus on revitalization.
City officials and the public were asked for their input on three different proposals last month, with the first option including underground parking, outdoor areas and a civic building.
Option one was the most popular with 72% of the community in favor of the design, yet approval failed in a split decision vote by the city council.
“I just want to say I’m a little surprised and disappointed that it seems like the politicians are just not listening to the residents of West Ashley,” community member Sharon Gardner says.
Thursday’s meeting was set with plans of potential action for the project, but after hours of heated discussion, the only decision made was to develop another proposal with a design only including civic building and green space.
“I think we need to develop another option,” Charleston City Councilmember, William Dudley Gregorie, says. “We need to develop another option that is green space, and municipal space, and let the people of West Ashley take a look at that.”
The motion was made even after dozens of members of the public continued to push for option one.
“Having something in our community to allow us to gather is very important,” West Ashley resident William Tinkler says. “I’ve talked with many people in the last couple of months, and I can tell that people in West Ashley, they want action; they want something done now.”
Although the meeting was held by the Charleston Community Development Commission, almost every member of the Charleston City Council joined, saying no project in the city’s history has had this large of a public response.
“Approach this effort in this project through the lens of West Ashley revitalization,” councilmember Ross Appel says. “We need to find a way to jumpstart the economy of West Ashley; because let’s face it, West Ashley does lag behind other parts of the city and other parts of the region.”
Unless one voting member changes their mind, at this rate the decision will simply remain split.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg himself is on the side of economic growth.
“If we approve it, we would be able to move forward and get something going, that includes the multi-uses that respectfully many hundreds of our citizens weigh in upon over the last few years,” Tecklenburg says. “It’s a good option; it will revitalize the West Ashley, it’s a good way to go”
A community member who has been involved in the process says this is the nineteenth meeting on the development in the last six years.
Robert Mitchell, Perry Waring, William Dudley Gregorie and Caroline Parker were in favor of Thursday’s motion to develop another proposal with design only including civic building and green space. Mayor John Tecklenburg, Ross Appel and Jason Sakran were opposed.
Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — A project that started six years ago is still nowhere close to being completed after city council sent it back to the drawing board on Tuesday.West Ashley residents are sharing their frustrations after Charleston City Council failed to pass a plan to revitalize the old Piggly Wiggly ...
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — A project that started six years ago is still nowhere close to being completed after city council sent it back to the drawing board on Tuesday.
West Ashley residents are sharing their frustrations after Charleston City Council failed to pass a plan to revitalize the old Piggly Wiggly site on Sumar Street.
Hours and hours of discussion ended in a deadlock, causing the plan supported by a majority of voters to fail. The proposal called for underground parking, green space and office space.
Residents say after about 14 public meetings and hearings, they've been on board with that layout since day 1. West Ashley resident Ed Sutton was at the council meeting and posted tweets live as everything unfolded.
“I spoke in favor of option 1, the public and I decided it’s what we want,” he said. “Council decided to ignore West Ashley and the citizens of West Ashley.”
The vote ended in a 6-to-6 tie. City councilmember Mike Seekings, on vacation, was absent from the meeting.
Neighbor Ed Sutton believes this deferment is political, and not at the best interest of West Ashley residents.
“The opposition ranged from the price tag being too big to it not being great enough," Sutton said. "It seemed like opposition in search of a reason.”
City council decided to move away from all three proposals. Councilman Stephen Bowden says that decision contradicts the city's promise to prioritize West Ashley and ultimately costs the taxpayers more money.
“If we had just voted for option 1 last night, it wouldn’t be a hit to our general fund," said Bowden, who represents a portion of West Ashley. "The $660,000 we’re paying is directly coming from other priorities that we could’ve used the money for.”
Sutton and other West Ashley neighbors say they’re just ready for Sumar Street to be more than what they call "an eye sore.” Mayor John Tecklenburg shared a statement about last night’s meeting. He said in part, quote, "some of our councilmembers decided to just throw that citizen-led plan in the trash. That was wrong."