CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The future of 2 iconic smokestacks on East Bay Street is still undecided. City leaders are now assembling a taskforce to figure out a safe and cost-effective decision.
The St. Julian Devine Smokestacks have been looming over the Eastside neighborhood since the early 1930s. Many say they are a testament to Charleston’s industrial history.
The chimneys have withstood decades of wear and tear; leaving structural damage and cracks in the bricks and mortar. The City of Charleston says they are a serious hazard to nearby residents.
“The more we continue to kick this can down the road, we are subjecting our constituents to potential harm,” says councilmember William Dudley Gregorie.
City officials have created an evacuation plan for the residents who live in the “danger zone” if a storm brings winds over 74 miles per hour; which could cause the structures to topple over.
Craig M. Bennett, Jr., head of Bennett Preservation Engineering, is in charge of creating a preservation plan. However, council is forming a taskforce to help decide whether or not the stacks should be fully renovated, partially renovated, or removed completely.
“This is a sensitive subject to a lot of folks, and I want to make sure that whatever decision we do follows our normal protocols and procedures,” says councilman Peter Shahid.
Removing the smokestacks will cost approximately $535,000, partially renovating but reducing their height will cost around $1.6 million, and a total preservation will cost an estimated $3 million.
The taskforce consists of city leaders, council members and preservationists. They are expected to present their decision to city council by the end of January.
The city has also hired International Chimney from Buffalo, NY to inspect the chimneys sometime next week.