Charleston: One Simple (Hopefully Not Impossible Request)
Housing on the peninsula: So little space, so MANY people.
It is time to face an inevitable truth: Charleston is developing rapidly, and despite what I think could very well be a bubble (we can’t suck on the Condé Nast teat forever), expansion is going to crawl up King and Meeting Street towards The Neck. This means lots of things. One very real possibility is gentrification (which may or may not be as bad as you think it is).
But one externality of this is real estate prices, and likewise, the price of rent. Charleston, I have one simple (and hopefully not impossible) request: let’s keep housing affordable for the food and bev community.
First, some personal context. I worked customer service for the better part of two years at both the counter of bowling alley and as a “brand ambassador” in Raleigh, North Carolina. As you might imagine, this was not luxurious work. College educated, I was spraying down shoes five nights a week, while on weekends asking people if they would like to try the new flavor of VitaminWater. I was also paying $300-400 a month to live off of Hillsborough Street, the college strip that turned into a bustling downtown, not unlike a King Street but without the PR fanfare. While I was rubbing nickels together, I was also paying off debt (and even saving, if you can believe it).
So, here’s the ask: $600-700 per person. A qualitative study of folks I know in food and bev submit that this is reasonable. Quantitatively, we know that people are happier when they live close to where they work, and if Charleston is to remain a place that welcomes not just a food and bev scene, but a professional food and bev scene, this is imperative.
Too often this town congratulates itself too early on either (1) what it could become or (2) what others say we are. Either way, congratulations to us: we’re considered cool. But what makes us cool (perceived or actualized) is the fact that we could be (are?) genuine. So if we are to be the real deal, the ownness is on us to ensure that the people who work downtown can afford to live downtown (outrageous SC E&G bill included).
The South has always been a place that has had our own backs, some times to a fault (see: The Civil War), but this sense of place (call it quaintness if you will) is also why the South is a great place to call home. We have a love for those who are near and dear to us, so all I ask is for us, as a community, to continue what we have always done: have each others’ backs. These are the people who make Charleston viable, so lets not weave them out of the fabric.