Union Heights was one of many neighborhoods impacted when I-26 was constructed in the 1960s. With that section of the interstate no longer in use, residents are working to reconnect their community.
“That land becoming available means that where that scar was,” Gerard “Skip” Mikell, president of the Union Heights Neighborhood Council, said. “We can create healing.”
The Scar Mikell is referring to runs nearly six decades deep. It’s a barren field where an exit ramp for I-26 once stood.
“That construction actually divided the community in half,” Mikell said.
The property was acquired through eminent domain, but the ramp has been obsolete for years now. Residents want the land back to build affordable houses and rejoin their community.
“What we’re trying to do is make houses that are attractive,” Mikell said. “That are safe, that are efficient and affordable, permanently affordable, so that this generational wealth, which is home equity, can be passed from one generation to the other.”
As for how many houses they plan to build…
“Somewhere around sixty homes,” Mikell said. “Sixty homes or more, depending on how they’re constructed.”
Mikell says despite their plans for the land, they need support from the city of North Charleston, which hasn’t been easy to get.
“I got an email this morning that says that when some decisions are made, we’ll be informed,” he said.
Mikell is worried that the city already has plans for the vacant lot. “We want to know the truth,” he said. “We want to know if there’s a plan, what the plan is and why the community, this community, has not been involved in the creation of the plan.”