Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Summey highlights revitalization in State of the City address

Staff //January 29, 2018//

Summey highlights revitalization in State of the City address

Staff //January 29, 2018//

Listen to this article

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey focused his State of the City address on the city’s continuing growth and how much the city has changed since he became mayor in the mid-1990s.

“Our city is a modern, diverse community with the quality of life increasing year after year,” he said in his video address filmed prior to Thursday’s City Council meeting.

Summey highlighted improvements that have been made in the city, including the transformation of parts of the former naval shipyard into the public Riverfront Park, and the private investment that has turned The Bend into a popular, 17-acre event venue along the Ashley River.

“The space may be activated for commercial use one day, but until then, The Bend is a definite asset,” he said.

Summey also noted the number of small businesses that have opened or relocated in North Charleston.

“Our large employers are essential, but it’s the small businesses in our community that makes us great,” Summey said. “Remaining inclusively business-friendly, North Charleston is enabling the little guy to start a business here, provide for their family and grow.”

Summey pointed to Park Circle as an example of how a “deliberate approach with key investments in the community” can attract business and revitalize an area.

He said Park Circle’s success is spreading to other parts of the city, too, such as the Spruill Avenue corridor, where Firefly Distillery and Holy City Brewing are planning to move and where The Codfather restaurant opened Saturday.

Firefly and The Codfather both secured their sites last year; Holy City Brewing is currently under contract with the city for a former Public Works site, according to city spokesman Ryan Johnson.

“Local entrepreneurs believing in our city, making new investments into once blighted areas breeds transformation,” Summey said.

The mayor said he wants to see the revitalization continue moving south; he said North Charleston is making investments into that area, including a partnership with Metanoia to repurpose the former Chicora Elementary School.

Summey said North Charleston is still committed to bringing a grocery store to the Chicora-Cherokee neighborhood at the Shipwatch Square site. The city is seeking a grocery store for the site after a deal fell through in October.

“Until that happens, we’re happy to have services such as Fresh Future Farm and others that provide fresh local produce to our residents,” Summey said.

Johnson said North Charleston has not started to consider opening a co-op or a city-owned grocery store at the Shipwatch Square site, options Summey has mentioned in the past. Instead, the city is currently still seeking a private grocer.

The Restaurant Depot currently under construction at Shipwatch Square is scheduled to open in the spring, creating about 60 jobs.

The mayor also acknowledged several noteworthy city employees and citizens in his address, including police officer Martha Lohnes, who delivered medication to a citizen who couldn’t leave her home; firefighters Calvin Benekin and Benjamin Siegel, who rescued a worker whose arm had been trapped inside a piece of machinery; and resident Herman Geddis, who noticed a woman lying in a ditch and called the police.

“Our community stays strong only with the full participation of the folks that live within it,” Summey said.

The mayor said he ran for mayor in 1994 to make North Charleston a better place, and he “could not be more proud” of the city’s success.

“I have great hope for the future of North Charleston, and working together, it will be even brighter,” Summey said.

Summey’s State of the City address has come in the form of a recorded video for the last decade, according to Johnson. Summey said he prefers the video format because when he’s given a traditional speech, “I put myself to sleep.”

Johnson said the video also serves as a promotional piece for North Charleston that the city can use for the entire year.