Digital Corridor receives approval for Flagship3 plans

The BAR gave conceptual approval to the design of Flagship3, which will be located right at the entrance to our Laurel Island property! We love seeing the growth of the tech industry in our backyard.


The Board of Architectural Review gave conceptual approval to the Flagship3 designs. (Rendering/Rush Dixon Architect)
(Rendering/Rush Dixon Architect)

By Liz Segrist
Published Sept. 11, 2014

The Charleston Digital Corridor’s Flagship3 development is headed toward final approval following a vote Wednesday by the city’s Board of Architectural Review.

The board approved the conceptual designs of the four-story, mixed-use building planned for 999 Morrison Drive in downtown Charleston.

The newest flagship space would offer offices for startups similar to Flagship1 and Flagship2; it would also offer some longer-term space for more established, high-growth companies with up to 50 employees, according to Ernest Andrade, the corridor’s executive director.

Andrade expects the project to be fully financed by local tech entrepreneurs and tech companies. He expects construction to begin this fall.

Flagship3 will be around 45,000 square feet, more than twice the combined size of Flagships 1 and 2, along Calhoun and Alexander streets.

Rush Dixon of Rush Dixon Architect presented the design plans for the Flagship3 to the board. Dixon pointed out design changes based on the board’s prior recommendations, including a more simplified roof layout and elements more similar to Charleston’s architecture and style.

For the entryway, Dixon took inspiration from unique corner entrances on buildings around Charleston. He also worked to include designs that emulate “technology and energy in motion.”

The board debated the materials that would be used and the use of vertical windows. Several board members spoke in favor of the design changes, noting that the building needs a few more minor tweaks before final approval.

“You came a long way by simplifying concepts but keeping true to your ideas and original concept,” board member Janette Alexander said. “The look is much more palpable and cleaner now.”

Rush Dixon representatives will take the board’s comments and make further revisions before going back to the board for preliminary and final approvals. The Digital Corridor is also working on the design for the parking garage as well as financing for the project.

The Flagship3 and an adjoining parking lot will be the anchor tenant for the city of Charleston’s planned 10-acre Charleston Innovation District along Morrison Drive. The city and the corridor want to create a place for tech companies and startups to cluster in high-density, mixed-use developments.

The tech district includes 999 and 995 Morrison DriveCharleston County owns 995 Morrison Drive and houses administrative buildings there.

Charleston City Council voted unanimously in July to allow buildings up to 85 feet in the tech overlay district. This vote increased the previous height restriction of 55 feet to accommodate the 76-foot tall Flagship3.

The city is also working on a new master plan for about 860 acres north of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge to accommodate a growing population. In addition to the tech district, plans call for a mix of housing options at different price points, mixed-use developments, office space, public transit, more bike lanes and parks.

Andrade said the city’s passage of the tech overlay district and height allowance show “a public-private partnership at its best.”

“There is a lot of work ahead, but today, the BAR affirmed that we will lead the creation of a 21st-century district of ‘modern architecture’ to complement the city’s historic core while accelerating Charleston’s high-wage, tech community,” Ernest said in an email after the meeting.

Obama includes Charleston Harbor deepening funds in budget

By Matt Tomsic
Published April 11, 2013

President Barack Obama included $1.2 million in his fiscal year 2014 budget to continue studying the impacts of deepening Charleston Harbor.

“We are grateful to the administration for including Charleston’s project in the budget for a second year in a row, as well as their commitment of resources to expeditiously advance our project,” said Bill Stern, chairman of the S.C. State Ports Authority Board of Directors. “This funding means that Charleston’s study can proceed to completion with absolutely zero funding restraints as both the federal and the port’s contributions have been fully committed at this point.”

The study is now at its midpoint as the Army Corps of Engineers examines the economic, engineering and environmental impacts of deepening Charleston Harbor beyond its current depth of 45 feet. Ports officials have stressed the need to deepen the harbor to 50 feet, and the Army Corps of Engineers Charleston District is studying a range of depths.

The study is expected to be completed by 2015 and to cost $13 million. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be released in September 2015.

“We have made great strides on the study in the last year and look forward to continuing this as we go forward,” said Lt. Col. Ed Chamberlayne, Charleston District commander. “We have shortened the timeline and reduced the budget for this study in our efforts to complete this process as quickly and efficiently as possible while looking for the most economically beneficial and environmentally acceptable option for the nation.”

Obama included the deepening project in his budget last year and named the harbor deepening as one of five port projects that are critical for the nation’s infrastructure. During the last General Assembly session, state lawmakers set aside $300 million for the estimated cost of construction, which the state and federal government split. The funds set aside by the state will cover both shares.

The budget also included $14.8 million for maintenance costs in the harbor.

In Georgia, Obama included $1.3 million for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project to cover preconstruction, engineering and design costs as that harbor works toward deepening from 42 feet to 47 feet. The total estimated cost of deepening the Savannah River is $652 million.

“This amount certainly falls far short of what we were hoping for, particularly considering the time pressures we face on this project and the 5-to-1 return on investment our nation will begin to receive once this is completed,” said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal in a statement. “With the understanding that we’ll have a 60-40 federal-state split on funding, Georgia has lived up to its promises. We’ve now put aside $231 million, which is a significant portion of our share. The federal government has funded only a small fraction of its obligations, and we would like to see more and quicker progress on this front.”

In Virginia, the president included $800,000 to study the deepening of Norfolk Harbor and other channels. In New York, Obama included $49 million for construction costs at the New York and New Jersey Harbor.

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