Thanks to two very generous couples, a stretch of Low Country shoreline with an adjacent private island has been given to a conservation group.
Nature lovers in South Carolina are celebrating this week at the generous donation of an area known as Limehouse Point. Composed of 87 acres of unspoiled marsh and greenery, including a small 12-acre island, the protection of these lands has been described by local media as “against all odds”. Had it not been for one twist of fate, the future of Limehouse Point would have looked very different indeed.
In the heady days of the real estate boom, the picturesque stretch of riverside just outside of Charleston was slated for an extensive development. When the market came crashing back to earth in 2008, however, plans for upscale homes on Limehouse Point came with it. After its development plans failed, the property wound up in foreclosure, and languished with other unsellable assets held by the Federal Deposit Insurance Company (FDIC).
After the real estate crash, Limehouse Point was worthless as far as developers were concerned – but to a handful of conservation-minded locals, the island and marsh held enormous value. Jenny and Mike Messner, who live in Charleston, together with Betsy and Paul Shiverick, created a plan to buy the property and keep it for public use as “urban green space”.
The two couples formed the Speedwell Foundation and the Red Fields to Green Fields project, and successfully acquired the island and mainland property from the FDIC. Now, they have donated the land to the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (PRC), which will be turning the mainland tract into a trail park. As for the 12-acre island, plans for its future use are still up in the air.
Julie Hensley, planning director for the PRC, suggested public facilities like picnic tables, restrooms or camping sites for the island. “I think (the island) has great potential to serve as a stopping point,” she said. “We’re just at the planning stage, but it’s pretty exciting because it’s part of a bigger trail system.”
For the Messners and their partners, Limehouse Point is just the beginning of what will hopefully be a transformative effort to take undevelopable, economically-distressed properties, and create valuable green space that adds to the beauty and quality of life of all Low Country residents.
Visit the website for Redfields to Greenfields: Link
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