CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The revitalization of the Eastside neighborhood in Downtown Charleston is underway as volunteers grabbed shovels and gardening gloves Tuesday.
The latest part of the project is revamping Conway Park, one of the quadrants of Hampstead Mall, the oldest park on the peninsula.
A new irrigation system, pathways, plants, and more will take the park from a barren, abandoned piece of land to a community-centered green space. The project is a collaboration between the Eastside Gardening Club, Charleston Parks Conservancy, and the City of Charleston.
“There has to be a place for people to go enjoy the out-of-doors,” said Kae Clarke, an Eastside neighbor.
“Being able to have a space to be outside, to recreate, to talk to our neighbors, and our friends outside and just reap all the benefits that nature and parks provide,” said Devon Andrews, a representative of the Charleston Parks Conservancy.
Conway Park is just one of the four quadrants to be revitalized. Phillip Simmons Park was refreshed in the fall of 2021 and before that, another quadrant was outfitted with a playground, basketball court, and bleachers.
According to one neighbor, Eastside residents raised around $20,000 for the revitalization of Hampstead Mall. Additionally, they won an AARP grant of $12,000, and the City of Charleston agreed to also provide some funding.
The cost of the upgrades to Conway park is around $60,000.
The plan to bring new life into the park stems from a dream of neighbors and a nearby church, St. John’s Chapel.
“We dreamed that people could find something to come together when there’s so much division in the community,” said Pastor Matthew Rivers of St. John’s Chapel.
He believes the park is a symbol of unity.
“What it means for this community is that people do care regardless of color or creed or any background, people can come together and work and we’re seeing that happen right now,” said Pastor Rivers.
Volunteers plan to finish the revitalization of Conway Park in the next few weeks.
The fourth and final quadrant of Hampstead Mall is owned by the Charleston County School District. The district has agreed to upgrade the quadrant beginning in the summer of 2023.
A representative of the district said they are hopeful the project will be complete by the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year.
To see the initial plans for the quadrant, click here.
As for the neighborhood as a whole, Pastor Rivers is planning more upgrades.
“We have bigger plans. My church is working on a plan to do some much, much bigger things that will be a surprise! This community is growing, it’s developing, it’s becoming one of the greatest communities around town.”
Neighbors agree with the church leader.
“It’s important that we get people to know that we have a lot of history here,” said David Matthews, an Eastside Neighbor.