Monday, August 15, 2011

Charleston: One Step Closer To A New Cruise Terminal

Despite opposition from a small group of locals protesting the inappropriateness of having cruise ships homeport there, Charleston, South Carolina is moving forward with plans for a new cruise ship terminal. Basically, the new terminal will be a repurposed industrial warehouse at the north end of Union Pier, where cruise ships currently berth. The (South Carolina) State Ports Authority plans to transform the warehouse into a modern cruise ship terminal at a cost of $35 million.

Charleston’s Board of Architectural Review voted 4-0 last week to initially approve the cruise terminal’s design (pictured in the rendering above). Of the seven Board members, three recused themselves from voting: one whose firm has involvement in the project, and two who are members of the Coastal Conservation League, which had a hand in a lawsuit filed in June against Carnival Cruise Lines.

Initially, there will be no parking garage alongside the new terminal, although one might be constructed later. Passenger parking will be provided in the large area alongside the converted warehouse/new terminal that once served as an automobile staging area for BMWs awaiting shipment. Another Board of Architectural Review meeting to go over the plan in more detail hasn’t been scheduled yet.

On a related note, Carnival Cruise Lines has responded to the lawsuit brought by the Coastal Conservation League, the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, and the Preservation Society of Charleston, which alleges that Carnival’s use of Union Pier (the location of the current cruise terminal and the site of the new cruise terminal) is illegal under city zoning.

The cruise line requested the dismissal on the grounds that the terminal has been used by passenger vessels since the early 1900s, long before the city zoning regulations cited were in existence. According to the Charleston Post and Courier, “Carnival also claims that state law prohibits cities from enacting zoning rules that would interfere with the SC State Ports Authority’s responsibilities, and argues that the plaintiffs don't have standing to sue.”

For more information about that lawsuit and the controversy surrounding it, see Cruise Diva’s blog coverage at Charleston Groups File “Frivolous” and “Irresponsible” Lawsuit Against Carnival Cruise Lines.

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