Change in Superfund Status Opens Magnolia Site to Development > Charleston Business Journal
A site that may go on to represent the largest redevelopment of once contaminated land in the state was recently removed from the Federal Superfund list by the Environmental Protection Agency. This decision paves the way for the development of the Magnolia project.
Thousands of Superfund sites exist nationwide because of the hazardous waste dumped there, left exposed, or otherwise mismanaged, according to the EPA’s website. These sites include manufacturing facilities, processing plants, landfills and mines.
Like much of the Upper Peninsula, the Magnolia development site was once home to heavy industry, which polluted the land for decades with lead, creosote, arsenic and other contaminants from manufacturing fertilizers and wood treatment products. The Koppers parcel, named after the timber processing plant that operated there from 1940 to 1977, was placed in the Superfund Trust in 1994, according to Magnolia developer Highland Resources Inc.
Environmental cleanup of the site began after a Raleigh-based real estate investor assembled the land in 2002 from about two dozen individual plots and began reimagining the brownfield as a “new urbanist community” of homes, shops, hotels, entertainment venues and parks. , Highland Resources added.
When the Environmental Protection Agency removed the site from the national priority list, it effectively gave Magnolia the green light to begin development on the former brownfield site. According to the developer, two other federal environmental remediation sites in Magnolia, formerly owned by Columbia Nitrogen and Ashepoo Phosphate, had already been remediated to EPA standards.
Davis said that with evidence today and information from federal authorities who cleaned up the site, he does not consider recontamination to be a concern. Fresh soil was deposited all over the property, he said.
“This site has been cleaned twice, so we have absolutely no concerns about recontamination,” said Craig Zeller, project manager for the EPA’s Atlanta office. “If we felt differently, we wouldn’t have cleared it for mixed-use development, so it’s good to go.”
Overall environmental remediation costs have totaled $75 million to date, which included removing contaminated soil and covering an area the size of 34 football fields with a protective barrier and a clean soil, Highland Resources said.
“The next phase of the project”
It took decades to bring the 189-acre Magnolia project to life. The land is a total of nine parcels combined into one large parcel to build a one-of-a-kind mixed-use downtown in Charleston proper. Magnolia is zoned for over 4,000 residential units, 1 million square feet of office space, up to 200,000 square feet of retail space, over 1,000 hotel rooms, multiple entertainment venues , a marina and a waterfront park along the marshy shores of the Ashley River.
The first phase will focus on the waterfront area of the property and will include 150,000 square feet of retail space, 850 residential units, 300,000 square feet of office space and a luxury hotel.
The Magnolia site has been completely cleared for development, but infrastructure design and permits are underway with the City of Charleston before construction begins, which is expected to begin in early 2024.
“There has never been a development of this size in Charleston to date that can be redeveloped on this scale, so it makes sense to use it for a mixed-use development here once the environmental issues are resolved, as close downtown as possible to create sustainable green development,” said Clark Davis, CEO and President of Highland Resources Inc. “We look forward to moving into the next phase of the project, which will create a strong sense of the waterfront with public access to the Ashley River.
Highland partners with Portman Holdings to develop the Magnolia project. The Atlanta-based private real estate company has developed projects such as The Line in South Charlotte and other projects out West.
“We will be creating a joint venture with Portman because we believe we can bring more to the Charleston area efficiently and economically by working together,” Davis said.
Ambrish Baisiwala, President and CEO of Portman, said the first phase of construction will activate the waterfront, creating a public amenity for the entire community to enjoy.
“The first phase will focus on creating at least two public access points along the waterfront,” he said. “In total, Magnolia will include 24 acres of public parks, with neighborhood greens, plazas and plazas, and we will preserve the 48 acres of marshland.”
The Magnolia will be a live, work and play community with more than half a mile of waterfront and Charleston’s largest open park, “so we want to make sure we’re building sustainable designs throughout the project,” Davis said.
This site is a special opportunity to have nearly 190 contiguous acres directly on the Ashley River near downtown Charleston and the historic district, Baisiwala said.
“The delisting (of the Superfund) is an important step that allows us to move forward with the design and programming of a one-of-a-kind mixed-use development entirely focused on activating the currently inaccessible beachfront. for the community,” he added. . “We are working to transform the site with a master plan focused on walking, green spaces, local restaurants and residential community to provide a sustainable waterfront destination that benefits and contributes to Charleston’s essential appeal.”
What Magnolia Means to the City of Charleston
Charleston planning officer Christopher Morgan said working with the site’s developers to clean it up took nearly 20 years.
“This redevelopment will be truly defining for the city, as it has the potential to be a vibrant part of the city in an area of Charleston that hasn’t contributed much in quite some time,” Morgan said. To see the site now cleaned up is phenomenal for our city, and we are thrilled to see the project moving forward. It is an incredible property.
Morgan also said the Magnolia site is a great place to create more activity with the view of the Ashley River and along the Landing of History, where Charleston was first settled. There will also be a transit stop, allowing greater connectivity for the area and downtown Charleston.
Market conditions will dictate the completion of the phases, Davis said, but the first phase will be the most important, as it is expected to represent 20-25% of the entire site. The first phase will include multi-family units, hotels, retail, shops, restaurants and the completion of the waterfront park, so residents can begin to take full advantage of these amenities when development begins, Davis added.
Portman and Highland estimate the total cost of the project at around $2 billion once the project is complete, likely over the next 12 to 15 years.
Once complete, Davis said he expects the development to create many jobs and have a positive impact on the Charleston community.
“We’ve worked with city and neighborhood groups to make sure this is a project everyone is proud of,” he said. “The size of the project alone sets it apart, and there’s nothing else like it. It will have a downtown feel. It will be a place where people will want to stay, live, visit.
Highland Resources was founded by brothers George and Herman Brown, owners of Brown & Root and Texas Eastern Corp. Highland Resources Inc., based in Houston, has a proven track record in the development of residential, industrial, hotel and office projects. Highland has accumulated and owns, or is developing, over 32,000 acres of land and 6.2 million square feet of commercial space throughout the Southeastern United States and Scotland.
Contact Krys at 864-640-4418.