“GATEWAY” TO BE BIRD FRIENDLY

By: Sully Witte
View original article at www.moultrienews.com

Forty six beautiful acres of waterfront property sit undeveloped along Patriots Point Boulevard. This area marks one of the largest chunks of waterfront property left in Mount Pleasant. It is also considered an area with great potential to draw people not only to Patriots Point, but to Mount Pleasant in general.

It is no secret that the property would eventually be developed. But over the years it has become a natural habitat to so many animals, including migratory birds.

Local resident September Welborn lives in the adjacent community, Bayview. She is an avid birder since purchasing her home there two years ago.

“A walking trail may be the sole focus of the town (at the marsh edge), but it is my hope that since Lubert-Adler is the primary land holder of all of Patriots Point/Waterfront Gateway (they lease the golf course and Belvidere Cottages, too), through ownership and leases, they incorporate pockets of habitat for the painted bunting, natural and under/mid story plantings and container plantings among their hardscapes to assist the displaced birds in their adaptation to their new home,” she explained.

Mike Langella, president of Front Door Communities, established in 2011, is overseeing the potential development of the 36 developable acres there, owned by Lubert-Adler.
He’s no stranger to Mount Pleasant, with more than 15 years of experience in developing and building master planned communities. In talks with Welborn, he and Lubert-Adler officials have agreed that any construction in the proposed development would only be enhanced by using bird friendly techniques.

“We know that our development will impact the habitat established here so we are going to build a green, sustainable community that enhances the wetlands for migratory birds,” said Langella.

He explained that construction techniques would not only include energy efficient materials, but would also eliminate the use of reflective glass along the waterfront, among other things.
Langella reached out to Sarah Latshaw, hired a consultant to help incorporate a migratory bird habitat area and researched bird friendly building guidelines, such as those in the city of Toronto.

“We have ongoing communication, and I look forward to hearing their ideas,” Welborne said. “They are in a position to positively impact sustaining the migratory songbirds – which are already there – with their building and landscaping choices throughout Patriots Point over the coming years and decades. It is also my hope that as the Town of Mount Pleasant develops their Waterfront Gateway definitions, they include bird friendly construction (to reduce bird strikes), mitigation measures of scrub brush (relocating scrub brush within the Waterfront Gateway to another location within the Waterfront Gateway) and incorporate bird friendly landscaping into their design guidelines, such as 40 percent of required open space be native plantings of understory, midstory and canopy trees. The town thought very highly of the importance of the birds at Patriots Point when they twice applied for hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to build the nature trail with birding towers.”

Lubert-Adler has won numerous accolades for redeveloping waterfront projects such as the Stamford, Conn. waterfront and Atlantic Station Community in Georgia.

This proposed mixed-use development is called Bridgeside. The project was officially presented to the Mount Pleasant Planning Commission last Wednesday and received a favorable vote. The project will now be presented at the town council committee level and eventually go before the full council next month.

Bridgeside is slated to be a 24/7 waterfront gateway to Mount Pleasant with the traditional live, work, play concept. But different from other similar communities, the waterfront at Bridgeside will be open to the public. Langella said that connectivity will also be a prominent feature of Bridgeside. Visitors and residents to the community will have immediate access to Memorial Waterfront Park, Patriots Point and the Charleston Water Taxi.

But what will also draw people to the area are the public venues. Dining, both indoor and outdoor, is planned as well as retail, office and commercial space. All of this will be set along the Charleston Waterfront. Residential areas will be nestled within the community, all connected by a pedestrian promenade and public parks.

Most significant to the project is a public waterfront gathering space, which will be much like an amphitheater, with a tiered lawn cascading down towards the harbor.
A waterfront boardwalk will be constructed to connect to the Patriots Point nature trail and Memorial Waterfront Park.

Two hotels, totaling 333,000 sqft., are planned for the project, one being a conference hotel and the other being a limited service hotel. Both would be required to be flagged/branded hotels.

In the residential district, 573 multi-family units are planned at three to four stories tall.

Parking garages will be located underneath the units. In general the units are considered high-end rental properties.

Commercial space will be included within the waterfront and underneath some residential units.

There will also be stand-alone commercial units. The plans calls for 60,000 sqft. of retail space, which is more than the developers wanted, but comes at the suggestion of town officials.
In the boulevard district of Bridgeside, retail and commercial tenants would be relative to activity at the ball fields.

Developers will have to make improvements to various connecting roads and intersections.

Langella said that the intersection of Patriots Point Boulevard and Coleman Boulevard will receive improvements as will the intersection of Harry Hallman Boulevard and Patriots Point Boulevard within the development itself, a round-about will be constructed for smooth traffic flow.

Based on studies conducted by various consultants such as Reznick Group, the economic impact should be significant. For example, Reznick Group estimates that during the construction phase, there will be more than $400 million in total economic impact.

Langella said 700 jobs per year, over the five year build out, would be created.

On a recurring basis, more than $100 million in economic impacts will be created annually plus 900 permanent jobs.

He said $7.5 million in impact and building permit fees will be paid to Mount Pleasant.

Joining Langella on this development team are Terry Russell, former CEO of Weiland Homes and Mark Lipsmeyer who has been in the Charleston market for 12 years with both Weiland Homes and the I’On Group.

Lubert-Adler is also owner of Rivertowne Golf Club and surrounding properties.

In discussions of how to make the Bridgeside community unique, town officials requested that a cultural and activities commission be established at Bridgeside.

It would be funded by a regime fee from certain properties and would be responsible for promoting cultural activities, specific to Mount Pleasant.

If the project gets a nod from town officials, permitting and design/review would begin immediately. Construction could begin as soon as 2013, Langella said.