CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The St. Julian Devine Smokestacks are an iconic part of East Bay street. Withstanding decades of wear and tear, the City of Charleston says they are a serious hazard to nearby residents.
City leaders have been deliberating between 3 options: a complete restoration, partial restoration and complete demolition.
Members of the Eastside Community have been speaking out in favor of saving the smokestacks because of their historical value. However, the complete restoration would cost the city $3 million that they do not have.
Mayor Tecklenburg says he understands why residents don’t want to see the chimneys demolished, but feels as if the problem will only get worse with time, posing as a serious threat to those who live in the area.
“If you had all the money in the world, you’d preserve them,” says Tecklenburg.
According to the city, the structures have undergone inspections to check for structural damage. Craig M. Bennett, Jr., head of Bennett Preservation Engineering, initially recommended they be demolished completely.
The Mayor says he thinks the best option would be to partially demolish the smokestacks approximately 60 feet and restore the rest. This option would cost approximately $450,000.”
“I think a good middle ground is to break them down to a safer height. Because I’m thinking in 50 years — 100 years — down the road, you’re gonna have this same problem,” he says.
City Council will be discussing the different options at their next meeting. Mayor Tecklenburg says the only way, at this moment, they could somehow afford the $3 million restoration is if council were to reallocate funding from other places.
“That allocation was done a couple years ago, and they decided at that time — not knowing what we know now — to focus some of those funds on drainage solutions for the neighborhood, which is badly needed and for providing affordable housing, which is badly needed,” he says.
The city plans on holding more meetings in the future to include Eastside residents in the decision-making process, while also informing them on the evacuation protocols they are adding to make sure they feel safe.