When the Charleston Digital Corridor launched in 2001, they had a vision to transform Charleston’s economy. While it used to be dependent on manufacturing and shipping, it is increasingly one where knowledge and creativity are the currency, not goods. The Digital Corridor represented the hopeful future of forlorn northern neighborhoods of the peninsula scattered with abandoned industrial buildings. The idea was that as the knowledge economy grew—which depended on Charleston being rebranded as a tech center of the Southeast—it would expand downtown northward to long forgotten lands. That day has come.
With their first two Flagship locations at the intersection of East Bay St and Calhoun St, Flagship 3 is their first expansion north of Calhoun. The Charleston Board of Architectural Review recently approved the plans for FS3, which will be located at 999 Morrison Drive. Mayor Riley and the City Council approved the plans for the 47,000 square foot FS3, which included a unanimous vote for raising the height to 85 feet from 55 feet for buildings in the tech overlay district.
Being bigger than both other flagship buildings combined, FS3 will have room for companies to scale within its walls. Small incubation-sized offices and co-working spaces will cover the bottom floors, with the top floors devoted to larger office spaces for more established companies. The building itself is also surrounded by real estate waiting to undergo a similar transformation. Successful startups can buy up those properties and begin to develop them.
Ernest Andrade of the Charleston Digital Corridor said “This is an example of 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 historic core while accelerating Charleston’s high-wage, tech community.”
It’s mostly likely that the project will be funded exclusively by Charleston tech entrepreneurs.
The architect, Rush Dixon, collaborated with the City’s Design Division chief, Jacob Lindsey, to offer Charleston a new modern look to contrast the historic district. “This goes beyond just this one building—we hope it can spark construction of a vibrant and sustainable new mixed-use innovation district on formerly industrial property with technology jobs at its heart,” Lindsey said.
The tech overlay district is part of the Charleston Upper Peninsula Initiative, which began in 2013 with a partnership between the Sustainability Institute and the City of Charleston. They pitched Charleston as a project for the EcoDistricts initiative and got accepted. The CharlestonUP is now working to implement the EcoDistricts sustainable growth model on the upper east side. The development of this formerly industrial area is centered around strategic public-private-civic partnerships to create a densely-populated urban neighborhood where residents can live, work and play.
FS3 will be a few blocks from other new developments like Blue Acorn, SIB, Edmund’s Oast, and the area will continue to develop quickly. The tech industry is at the heart of the reurbanization of the upper peninsula, and the approval of this project is a vision come true for the City of Charleston, and the Digital Corridor alike.