A look at Charleston’s future Lowcountry Lowline

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An illustration of what the Lowcountry Lowline could look like | Image provided by Lowcountry Lowline

Conceptual master plan

Ever since a conceptual study was released back in February, we’ve all been wanting the lowdown on the status of the Lowline. Well, our wish has come true.

Earlier this week, the Charleston City Council signed off on the Lowcountry Lowline’s conceptual master plan that will allow the anticipated project to begin taking shape. 

Lowcountry Lowline conceptual master plan | Rendering by DesignWorks provided by Friends of the Lowcountry Lowline

In case you need a refresher (or have never heard of the Lowline), the 2-mile linear park taking the place of a now-defunct railroad downtown – will be split into three main districts that will play roles in mitigating flooding, connecting the community, growing business, recreation and event space + serving as an alternative method of travel. The Lowline will connect downtown Charleston to West Ashley, North Charleston + Mount Pleasant. 

Lowcountry Lowline will connect downtown Charleston to West Ashley, North Charleston + Mount Pleasant | Rendering by Design Works provided by Friends of the Lowcountry Lowline

Friends of the Lowcountry Lowline executive director Tom Bradford + his team will begin working with the City of Charleston to secure preliminary development funding in early 2021. The project will cost an estimated $36.5 million that will be funded by various grants, private donations + more. 

A timeline for the Lowline’s development has not yet been announced.

Conceptual study

(Published February 2020)

Lowcountry Lowline rendering | Photo provided by Friends of the Lowcountry

Here are the main takeaways from the study:

The Lowline is intended to provide an alternative method of travel for people downtown. The study proposes that it would contain both bike lanes + a pedestrian path – creating a safer, car-free travel route. It could ultimately connect to a hub of the future Lowcountry Rapid Transit bus system, and is envisioned to be a part of the People Pedal Plan bikeway network. By linking up with these initiatives, it would not only make downtown neighborhoods more accessible to one another, but also areas like Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, + West Ashley.

Conceptual drawing of open space along the Lowline that would function as both water storage + a park | Image provided by Lowcountry Lowline

The open space provided by the Lowline could be optimized to help mitigate flooding downtown by implementing recommendations from the Dutch Dialogues report released last year. It would run through six drainage basins, and provide potential areas for water storage – including open space that will be able to function as a park when dry, and can house flooded water when wet. Additionally, the proposal calls for the construction of wetlands along the Lowline that would detain water + runoff while supporting local wildlife. 

Lowline Park | Rendering by DesignWorks provided by Friends of the Lowcountry Lowline

The vision for the Lowline suggests featuring all kinds of public park space – gardens, sports courts, event space, a dog park, playgrounds, + more. Along the Lowline, there would be ample opportunity for revenue-generating businesses – like retail, pop-up vendors, food trucks, an outdoor market, outdoor dining, + more. Beer garden, anyone? 🍻

The Columns at Lowcountry Lowline | Rendering by DesignWorks provided by Friends of the Lowcountry Lowline

○ Funding for the creation of the Lowline and its ongoing maintenance and management would be acquired through four different means: the creation of a Business Improvement District; private donations; federal, state + local grants; and revenue generated by the Lowline itself. 

In other words, this is much more than a push to build a new linear park – it’s a project that has the potential to completely transform the peninsula and the way people get around. 

Newmarket Park | Rendering by DesignWorks provided by Friends of the Lowcountry Lowline

While the conceptual study includes a lot of great ideas about how the Lowline could look, leaders of the project tell us members of the community will play a major part in determining how it ultimately takes shape. Over the next few weeks, they plan to hold several community meetings that will give the public an opportunity to weigh in on what they’d like the Lowline to include.

We’ll be sure to share details with you on those meetings just as soon as they’re announced. In the meantime, you can check out the entire study here + share your feedback on the Lowcountry Lowline with us below.

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