Union Pier could be next Tax Increment Financing district in Charleston

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Union Pier could be one of the next Tax Increment Financing Districts in the City of Charleston after a city council vote on Tuesday.

“It’s pretty essential, I think, to having Union Pier really be the best that it can be, and I’m pretty determined to make sure that Union Pier is something that, not just the City of Charleston, but the whole state of South Carolina can be very, very proud of,” Charleston Mayor William Cogswell told News 2.

Council passed a resolution “authorizing city staff to prepare a Redevelopment Plan and an Improvement Plan for Union Pier.” Mayor Cogswell explained this will signal staff to conduct a study which would be the first step in eventually forming a TIF District within the almost 70-acre property.  

“And what that will do is allow us, the city, assuming it is approved by city council, by county council, and hopefully by the school district, to provide special revenues for Union Pier, for public space, for infrastructure, for resiliency, for flood mitigation, for green space, for public access to the water and even affordability components,” the mayor said.

Sam Spence, the Director of Public Affairs for the Preservation Society of Charleston, also spoke on the TIF during public comment.

“A TIF and a MID have always been apart of the conversation on Union Pier, but they don’t have to be the only things that are part of the conversation. So, I would encourage you to think creatively to leverage additional public funding resources to ensure TIF and MID funds are used most effectively,” Spence said to council.

The Union Pier site is positioned for a major redevelopment project. While there are no specific plans in place, Mayor Cogswell has been pushing for the inclusion of green space and access to the water. TIF funds would be put towards those types of public areas.

“From the city’s perspective, having those sort of funds will allow us to ensure that the caliber of what goes there is something that is of Charleston, that really not only is a part of our community but really enhances our community,” Mayor Cogswell shared.

According to the mayor, Lower King Street is an example of an area in the city that has utilized TIF funds.