Author Topic: Downtown Charleston vs. Downtown Jacksonville  (Read 5404 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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Downtown Charleston vs. Downtown Jacksonville
« on: June 08, 2006, 07:13:14 AM »
Downtown Charleston vs. Downtown Jacksonville



Applying successful urban redevelopment strategies from our neighbor to the North.

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/63

David

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Re: Downtown Charleston vs. Downtown Jacksonville
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2012, 09:59:01 AM »
I know this article's over 6 years old, but I was very impressed by Charleston's downtown during my visit this past weekend. I had never spent much time there before as I always opted to visit Savannah when it came time for a quick get away, but Charleston has some serious vibrancy and energy in it's downtown. The streets were insanely busy.

I'm sure Savannah or St. Augustine is comparable for most, but Charleston has a certain urban vibe to it that you don't get in those other cities. At least that's my take on it.


« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 03:39:52 PM by David »

ben says

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Re: Downtown Charleston vs. Downtown Jacksonville
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2012, 10:24:11 AM »
I know this article's over 6 years old, but I was very impressed by Charleston's downtown during my visit this past weekend. I had never spent much time there before as I always opted to visit Savannah when it came time for a quick get away, but Charleston has some serious vibrancy and energy in it's downtown. The streets were insanely busy.

I'm sure Savannah or St. Augustine is comparable for most, but it had a certain urban vibe to it that you don't get in those other cities. At least that was my take on it.

Having lived in Charleston for 5 years, I can say for sure, Charleston does have some serious vibrancy and energy in it's downtown. It's truly a 24-hour-a-day town. There's always something going on, always people walking around, etc. The food scene is insanely good, and the shopping/historic atmosphere can't be beat. I LOVE Jax, but I'd live in Charleston in a heartbeat if I had South of Broad money (I know I sound like a douche bag there).

I now go back about once every 4 months. A few major problems I see:

1) Minus the rickshaws and the availability of taxis, public transportation here sucks. CARTA is notoriously awful...makes JTA look good awful. Unless you live in the Historic District, good luck getting around whenever/wherever.

2) The gentrification of downtown Charleston is having awful blowback with crime and poverty. Slowly but surely, as the City tries to push out the "lower elements" to make room for college students and vacation investors, crime and poverty sky rocket on the fringes. It's really sad/disheartening--not to mention violent crimes are on the rise.

3) While the cruise ship industry may be a boon for local economics (which is questionable to some..), it's destroying a lot of local flavor. The old city market is now a haven for knock off trash, fro-yo stores, t-shirt spots, and gaudy discotheques. Foot traffic is on the rise, but in all the wrong places.

4) Local government is ALMOST as bad as COJ. (Hey, I said almost!)

All that being said, Charleston is a kick ass place. Can't say enough good things about it. My only hope is it can keep it's historic vibrancy high while finding some equilibrium with the booming cruise ship industry.

P.S.... re: your St. Augustine and Savannah comparison...I'm biased, but neither town even comes close to the atmosphere, fun, entertainment, and food Charleston has to offer. Charleston is eons ahead in all categories. St. Augustine is way too touristy for me, and Savannah, while beautiful and charming, gets old after 24-48 hours.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 08:23:01 PM by ben says »
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Jason

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Re: Downtown Charleston vs. Downtown Jacksonville
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2012, 10:49:22 AM »
St. Augustine holds its own during daylight and early evening hours but once the sun drops the scene goes to bed.  There is absolutely NO comparison between the nightlife options of  Charleston/Savannah vs. St. Aug.

David

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Re: Downtown Charleston vs. Downtown Jacksonville
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2012, 10:49:40 AM »
Thanks! I was curious to hear a local's take on Charleston. And yes, I'd live there in a heartbeat too if I had that kind of money.  I definitely felt a bit under-dressed and was hard pressed to find a decent hotel under 200 a night on the weekend, but it’s a nice change of pace from the party town vacation, although there’s plenty of that to be had there as well.

The plantations on the outskirts of town were very visually impressive as well. They served as a nice get-a-way from tourist traps. Very relaxing, a ton of history.

And yeah, I didn't see much in the way of public transit there. We mostly walked and drove if it was more than 2 miles away.

The big story on the news during our visit was the dredging of the port and how they're one of 5 east coast port cities to get fast tracked to speed up the planning process. For a moment I was surprised  that Charleston was getting federal assistance for port dredging and not Jax, then I read on MJ that we're also one of the 5.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 11:07:49 AM by David »

David

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Re: Downtown Charleston vs. Downtown Jacksonville
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2012, 11:13:38 AM »
P.S.... re: your St. Augustine and Savannah comparison...I'm biased, but neither town even comes close to the atmosphere, fun, entertainment, and food Charleston has to offer. Charleston is eons ahead in all categories. St. Augustine is way too touristy for me, and Savannah, while beautiful and charming, gets old after 24-48 hours.

That pretty much sums it up for me. Savannah's good for a 36 hour trip (Again, i'm biased from over-visiting). St. Augustine will always be good for day trips and showing visitors around or catching a show at the amphitheater.



thelakelander

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Re: Downtown Charleston vs. Downtown Jacksonville
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2012, 12:27:53 PM »
Charleston is a pretty cool city.  I try and visit at least once a year.  The major difference between Charleston, Savannah and St. Augustine is that Charleston is a much larger urban area with a larger historically dense core.  I believe its metro area is roughly twice as large as Savannah's.
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vicupstate

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Re: Downtown Charleston vs. Downtown Jacksonville
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2012, 01:05:08 PM »
I know this article's over 6 years old, but I was very impressed by Charleston's downtown during my visit this past weekend. I had never spent much time there before as I always opted to visit Savannah when it came time for a quick get away, but Charleston has some serious vibrancy and energy in it's downtown. The streets were insanely busy.

I'm sure Savannah or St. Augustine is comparable for most, but it had a certain urban vibe to it that you don't get in those other cities. At least that was my take on it.

Having lived in Charleston for 5 years, I can say for sure, Charleston does have some serious vibrancy and energy in it's downtown. It's truly a 24-hour-a-day town. There's always something going on, always people walking around, etc. The food scene is insanely good, and the shopping/historic atmosphere can't be beat. I LOVE Jax, but I'd live in Charleston in a heartbeat if I had South of Broad money (I know I sound like a douche bag there).

I now go back about once every 4 months. A few major problems I see:

1) Minus the rickshaws and the availability of taxis, public transportation here sucks. CARTA is notoriously awful...makes JTA look good awful. Unless you live in the Historic District, good luck getting around whenever/wherever.

2) The gentrification of downtown Charleston is having awful blowback with crime and poverty. Slowly but surely, as the City tries to push out the "lower elements" to make room for college students and vacation investors, crime and poverty sky rocket on the fringes. It's really sad/disheartening--not to mention violent crimes are on the rise.

3) While the cruise ship industry may be a boon for local economics (which is questionable to some..), it's destroying a lot of local flavor. The old city market is now a haven for knock off trash, fro-yo stores, t-shirt spots, and gaudy discotheques. Foot traffic is on the rise, but in all the wrong places.

4) Local government is ALMOST as bad as COJ. (Hey, I said almost!)

All that being said, Charleston is a kick ass place. Can't say enough good things about it. My only hope is it can keep it's historic vibrancy high while finding some equilibrium with the booming cruise ship industry. After all, this town is literally sinking...hopefully they can figure something out.



P.S.... re: your St. Augustine and Savannah comparison...I'm biased, but neither town even comes close to the atmosphere, fun, entertainment, and food Charleston has to offer. Charleston is eons ahead in all categories. St. Augustine is way too touristy for me, and Savannah, while beautiful and charming, gets old after 24-48 hours.


There is definitely a battle underway regarding the size and impact of the Cruise Ship industry there. The City Market has always been the tourist trinket district, that is NOT because of cruise ships.  The King Street district is for the locals and higher ticket tourist shopping.   

Your comments on crime and quality of local government are based on your personal perceptions.  I don't think statistically crime is out of the ordinary, and I know in recent past it has been quit low compared to it's peers.   

I have never heard that the city is sinking, and I have followed Charleston news for decades.   Can you provide a reference?
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simms3

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Re: Downtown Charleston vs. Downtown Jacksonville
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2012, 02:46:57 PM »
I prefer Savannah at this point, but Charleston is certainly a charmer.  Lots of very nice people there, but too "pastel polo" for me to stay more than a weekend in the city or at the beach there.  Savannah is a little more funky, definitely a lot more liberal, and has more of a NE port city look to it than the pure Southern charm of Charleston.

Charleston has a Saks downtown and Savannah has a Marc Jacobs downtown, both among tons of other options, so as far as urban shopping the two cities are very hard to beat in the South.

Charleston is also BOOMING right now and has about as many multifamily deals underway in the metro as metro Raleigh, and both are leading the south with far more units UC than even Atlanta!  I'm sure COJ could learn A LOT from Charleston, even though I agree Charleston's leaders aren't the best examples out there.
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vicupstate

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Re: Downtown Charleston vs. Downtown Jacksonville
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2012, 03:41:57 PM »
I would call Savannah more 'artsy' than Charleston, rather than 'liberal', mainly due to the influence of SCAD.

As for leaders, there is no better mayor anywhere than Charleston's.  Below is just the LATEST example of why.  If Alvin Brown were smart he would pay Riley to school him on urban design, among other things.  If the economy is booming and the urban environment is that good, obviously somebody in power is doing something right. 

 The school system there is similiar to JAx, so that may be what you are referring to.  If you were referring to STATE leaders, I would agree with you.

Quote
The mayor had just about a minute.

Joe Riley was at the White House on Jan. 18 for a meeting with administration officials and other mayors when he was given the chance to talk briefly with President Barack Obama.

There was only one federal issue on Riley’s mind — dredging Charleston Harbor — but he didn’t want to seem parochial. After all, he’d brought up the dredging in another White House meeting with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in January 2011. He feared sounding like a broken record.

But this is his job, so he came up with a nice way to do it: The mayor thanked the president for all his staff’s hard work on the harbor dredging project. And then it happened.

“George Will thinks it’s a good idea,” Riley recalls Obama saying.

Two weeks before this meeting, the Washington Post columnist had written a piece lamenting the bureaucratic red tape holding up work on one of this nation’s most important ports.

Obama had not only read the piece, he remembered. Then the president turned to Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser, and said to make sure Charleston Harbor was in the budget. Just like that.

And then he took a picture with Riley.

When the mayor got his signed copy of that photo, an Obama staffer included a note that said, “Best use of 30 seconds in the history of the White House.”

That may be the political understatement of the year.

Safe harbor?

Last week, the White House announced that the timetable for dredging Charleston Harbor is being moved up by one year.

It’s amazing news, seeing as how a week earlier the Army Corps of Engineers lopped four years off the waiting period. All of a sudden, our dredging is imminent.

This is huge. In a couple of years, the Panama Canal will open to larger ships with deeper drafts, and any harbor that can’t accommodate them will see its business dry up. Charleston can’t afford that. South Carolina can’t afford that.

But for a while, that looked like a very real possibility.

The way a city used to get such federal service was through earmarks. But since our own Sen. Jim DeMint made some people believe that all earmarks are the work of the devil, Charleston Harbor was put in real danger.

Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jim Clyburn tried everything they could, and the State Ports Authority made its case as well.

Finally, the South Carolina Legislature helped the cause immensely this year by setting aside $300 million to pay for the whole project if need be.

It’s funny, but none of those people thumped their chests last week quite as loudly as another politician whose main contribution to the cause was yelling something at the president across a crowded room.

Putting country first?

Riley is very quick to disavow the notion that he deserves all the credit for this, even though other politicians admit his persistence and good relations with the White House likely made a difference.

In fact, Riley said nothing of this until he was asked. And then he praised Graham, Clyburn and State Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome for their work.

Make no mistake, this is not about party politics. Obama has absolutely no chance of winning South Carolina in November. So if he was spending political capital, it was a waste of money.

Riley says the truth is that Charleston Harbor made the priority list because it is vital to the local, state and regional economy, and the administration recognized this.

He’s absolutely right.

And it’s worth noting that this was accomplished by well-meaning politicians reaching across the aisle — which is how it is supposed to work, no matter what screaming zealots claim.

Of course, Riley, Graham, Clyburn and the Legislature were simply doing what we elected them to do: promoting the state.

Meanwhile, others just promote themselves.


 

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peestandingup

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Re: Downtown Charleston vs. Downtown Jacksonville
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2012, 04:47:39 PM »
I've lived in Charleston (Mt Pleasant to be exact) & was drawn to it for a lot of the positives listed here. But the problem with walkable, condensed historic towns in the south as I see it are that they turn them into tourist traps. So they end up losing a lot of what made them real viable cities, esp for the actual residents. I understand the mindset of it, and certainly don't disagree with it. They're working it with what they have. But for me it ultimately wasn't what I wanted in a city, although it does have a lot going for it generally speaking. They've done a lot of great things up there.

But I personally wouldn't call Charleston a real bustling city. Not really. With the college of charleston, the history, architecture & how most things in the actual historic district are geared towards tourists, it feels like a bigger version of St Augustine to me. Its certainly not quite as bad (downtown St Aug is basically all of that), but its very similar.

Again, I'm not dissing it. I like Charleston a lot & it will always be a special place to me (I even got married there!). Just calling it like I see it.

vicupstate

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Re: Downtown Charleston vs. Downtown Jacksonville
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2012, 06:58:46 PM »
A T-shirt I saw in Charleston once sums up my views on the tourist industry in regards to Charleston:

Tourism- Without it Charleston would be history.

An economy too dependent on tourism is not good in many ways, but an appropriate level is beneficial in many respects.  The idea is too find the right balance, IMO.     
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peestandingup

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Re: Downtown Charleston vs. Downtown Jacksonville
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2012, 07:36:29 PM »
A T-shirt I saw in Charleston once sums up my views on the tourist industry in regards to Charleston:

Tourism- Without it Charleston would be history.

An economy too dependent on tourism is not good in many ways, but an appropriate level is beneficial in many respects.  The idea is too find the right balance, IMO.   

Yep, true that. Places can still be historic, but cater both to locals as well as tourists. New Orleans comes to mind, so does Savannah, parts of Atlanta & most everything in the northeast. The trick is, like you said, find the balance.

I think its probably more difficult in Charleston just because of what it is. The peninsula (Charleston itself) is very small, expensive to live in & there's a lot of old money there. So its harder to inject a lot of non-touristy things & diversity into the actual city.

Fixed transit would fix a lot of that IMO. Like was mentioned before, the public transit they have now is awful. And parking/getting in & out of downtown is always a hairy mess (just because of the scale of what it is). And also many of the areas in the outer "beltway" loop are a clusterfuck. Why that town hasn't rallied to bring back vintage streetcar I'll never know.

ben says

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Re: Downtown Charleston vs. Downtown Jacksonville
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2012, 08:40:32 PM »
I prefer Savannah at this point, but Charleston is certainly a charmer.  Lots of very nice people there, but too "pastel polo" for me to stay more than a weekend in the city or at the beach there.  Savannah is a little more funky, definitely a lot more liberal, and has more of a NE port city look to it than the pure Southern charm of Charleston.

Charleston has a Saks downtown and Savannah has a Marc Jacobs downtown, both among tons of other options, so as far as urban shopping the two cities are very hard to beat in the South.

Charleston is also BOOMING right now and has about as many multifamily deals underway in the metro as metro Raleigh, and both are leading the south with far more units UC than even Atlanta!  I'm sure COJ could learn A LOT from Charleston, even though I agree Charleston's leaders aren't the best examples out there.

I think it's a misconception that Charleston is all "pastel polo"...yeah, there's a lot of that--afterall, it's the home of seersuckers and palmetto insignia, but for every pastel polo there's three CofC philosopher-smoking-shoeless-artist-thespian-banjo player. I think there's a pretty decent mix of people...which, outside of the SCAD crowd, can't really say the same for Savannah. I also don't know if Savannah is actually more liberal. I think it may just seem that way, again, from all the SCAD people.

By the by, Charleston no longer has a Saks. Forever 21 moved into the old space--Saks hasn't been there for 1.5 years. Sad news for South of Broad residents and high end tourists.

A T-shirt I saw in Charleston once sums up my views on the tourist industry in regards to Charleston:

Tourism- Without it Charleston would be history.

An economy too dependent on tourism is not good in many ways, but an appropriate level is beneficial in many respects.  The idea is too find the right balance, IMO.     

Couldn't agree more. But, same goes for New Orleans...as we saw post-Katrina, Nola was practically dead without tourism.

As you pointed out, and as peestandingup pointed out, the idea is to find the right balance. I think Charleston has done that--BUT, is on the verge of heading towards tourist hell, if it doesn't watch out. Considering the millions of tourists Charleston sees every year, Charleston (in my opinion) is quite livable for actual residents. Bull St, Montagu, Smith, Beaufain, Rutledge, Ashley, etc etc...half to 3/4 of the historic district is highly livable housing, both single family and multi family residencies. South of Broad is extremely livable, if you can deal with the horse drawn carriages and people gawking at your gardens.

Furthermore, I've always been astounded at the amount of small corner groceries that always seem to be bustling w/ REAL people, real residents...the main tourist drags are Broad St (which is very functional with office space galleries court house post office etc), East Bay St, Meeting St, and the City Market. Outside of those areas, yes, of course there are tourists...but those are the only areas I can think of that are marketed predominantly to tourists. King St has REAL stuff to do for real residents. Residents shop there, eat there, buy there, see there. I don't think you could say the same for any major area in St. Augustine.

The problem I've seen recently, when talking to "locals", is they are worried the cruise industry is getting too big. They don't want anymore T-shirt shops and fro-yo places and chains...essentially, they don't want the City Market getting passed Market Street. Yes, the Market has always been home to trinkets. I think the main issue is maintaining the area to what it always has been while keeping the rest of Charleston how it's been.

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tufsu1

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Re: Downtown Charleston vs. Downtown Jacksonville
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2012, 10:15:30 PM »
Charleston has a Saks downtown and Savannah has a Marc Jacobs downtown, both among tons of other options, so as far as urban shopping the two cities are very hard to beat in the South.

I think the Saks closed...and was replaced by something like Forever 21

edit: just saw post above...thanks Ben
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 10:17:51 PM by tufsu1 »