Behre: Once Vilified, Now Revered, Seven Farms Apartments Offers Classes on Daniel Island | Remark
A potential source of crime. A blow to the value of island properties. A reckless effort to concentrate residents in need of subsidized housing rather than dispersing them into smaller groups. An injustice to the residents of Daniel Island caused by the island developer and Charleston officials.
All of this and more was said about 16 years ago when the Humanities Foundation worked with the city to build one aspect of the Daniel Island master plan: a new affordable apartment complex near the city center. Only the State Ports Authority’s plan to build a container terminal – an idea later abandoned – sparked so much uproar on the island.
But the substance of all this public opposition now seems, as Mark Twain once said of reports of his own death, an exaggeration. The foundation’s project, Seven Farms Apartments, fits in perfectly with the upscale planned community that surrounds it. Crime hasn’t skyrocketed, but property values have. Today the resort is virtually indistinguishable from other private market-priced apartments on the island.
No one perhaps had a better view of this shift in public opinion than Jane Baker, who worked as the town’s neighborhood association coordinator during the Seven Farms controversy and heard from many residents. opposed to the project. Ten years ago she started working for the Daniel Island Town Association and is now its president. If there’s a crooked stop sign on the island, or if someone’s holiday lights are still on after February 1, she hears about it.
“I can say without a doubt that the success of the Seven Farms Apartments has been key to Daniel Island’s ability to have a stronger sense of neighborhood character, inclusiveness and a sense of community, principles that have guided the development of the island from day one, ”she said.
The success story of Seven Farms Apartments therefore holds many important lessons as our region continues to struggle to provide more affordable housing for people who live close to their jobs.
The first and most obvious is that worries about not being in my garden can be genuine, but the elect should not let such worries dominate the day, especially when based on little more than the Afraid of the unknown.
Especially since our region needs more apartments, townhouses and so-called “missing link” housing, subsidized or not.
These projects often generate political backlash: many see density as a dirty word. But it is not obligatory if it is done well.
And Seven Farms was: It was built in the right place, in the heart of the island at Seven Farms and Daniel Island Drive. Many residents have cars, but they don’t need them to get to groceries, most schools, stores, churches and parks on the island.
And it was built well: It had a beautiful design, and although the project was funded, it didn’t skimp on materials or construction.
Equally important, the foundation has done a good job of maintaining it while keeping it affordable. Its one- to three-bedroom apartments are accessible to people according to their income. (The income cap was around $ 28,000 for a family of four when it opened; it’s around $ 41,050 to $ 49,260 for that family today.)
In fact, the public outcry had died down shortly after the apartment complex opened. The Humanities Foundation expanded it in 2010 by adding 42 more affordable units for seniors. (Of the 5,660 residential units on the island, approximately 1,525 are apartments.)
“There was some negativity at the start, but the community really embraced them,” Foundation President Tracy Doran said at the time, when the 42-unit expansion didn’t spark the fury that the building original did.
Finally, however, the Seven Farms Apartment saga shows how government and business must proactively work together to plan for such housing as early as possible.
When the city annexed Daniel Island three decades ago, Mayor Joe Riley justified the decision by saying that the city’s involvement would ensure that the island did not become a gated community and served as a home for people. of different income levels.
Perhaps no other construction project on the island has contributed as much to this commitment as Seven Farms Apartments.
One wonders if it would have been built if such a complex hadn’t been part of the island’s original plan – a plan the city adopted before the first person moved in.