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Clemson MRED Practicum Proposes New Mixed-use hub for Upper Peninsula, Charleston

May 3, 2016

Article written for  publication in the Upstate Business Journal by Bhavik Thakkar, MRED 1st Year Student, and Dr. Robert Benedict, MRED Program Director and Practicum Professor

Clemson University’s 2016 graduates from the Master of Real Estate Development program recently completed their capstone project on a technology-based project for the Upper Peninsula of Charleston. The development proposals offer great takeaways for the West End of Greenville. The students proposed innovative approaches were proposed to activate the social realm and a mixture of uses to spur the redevelopment of an eight-acre, underutilized site on Morrison Drive that is currently owned by Charleston County. The nondescript buildings on the site currently house the Magistrate’s Court and Disabilities Board.

Like the West End of Greenville, the City of Charleston foresees this area becoming a dynamic area for creative uses such as food ports and food halls combined with higher-density office, local retail and affordable residential units. Four teams presented to a jury comprised of County officials, the City of Charleston and professionals from the local real estate community.

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The teams were challenged to integrate a proposed bridge to the Laurel Island development, a 165-acre commercial and residential community to be developed by Charleston developer Robert Clement. One of the teams proposed a food hall underneath the bridge, acting as a crucial connection to mitigate the barrier of the proposed bridge and uniting a physically dissected site. Another team proposed a pop-up shipping container village, termed a Food Port, situated amidst landscaping on either side of the bridge, again functioning as an activating link. The Food Port creates a confluence of two elements that make Charleston unique, its high quality food and its historic port. This results in a space that can become an entertainment venue with restaurants and retail tenants housed in refurbished shipping containers and open green spaces.

The winning team was comprised of students Dalton Chester, Alexandra Ulmer, Tim Lengen and Rob Fauntleroy. The Practicum was sponsored by the Society of Office and Industrial Users (Carolinas Chapter) and Stuart Whiteside of Seamon Whiteside and Associates. Richard Gowe of LS3P provided the presentation venue.

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The Clemson University Master of Real Estate Development Practicum requires second-year students to complete a comprehensive development proposal during their last semester that is inspired by case studies of successful and creative infill projects from across the country. Professors Robert Benedict and Jeff Randolph taught the course.

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Like Greenville’s West End, the Upper Peninsula of Charleston is seeing considerable demand for new dining concepts, local retail and food stores combined with suitable office and retail uses. The Clemson MRED’s Practicum provided some fresh perspectives with creative development approaches and financially feasible proposals.

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