The Charleston County Library Board presented cost estimates for four locations.
Here is a copy.
The lowest cost alternative is in the BI-LO shopping center near Folly Rd. While the cost of all the vacant space there is $5,250,000, the library board wants to purchase 20,000 square feet for a total cost of $2,650,000. The needed renovations are estimated to cost $6,650,000 for a total cost of $9.3 million.
It is on the Folly Road Corridor in the Town's "Commercial Core." It is in an area annexed by the City of Charleston. While the sidewalk access is currently poor, by the time it is built that should greatly improve.
The library board's first choice is for the Dills Bluff Property. This is near the corner of Camp and Dills Bluff, right behind the current location of Town Hall. The cost of new construction for a 20,000 square foot building is estimated at $10,820,000 for any site.
The library board wants 4 acres. The JIPSD Commissioners said that they didn't want to subdivide and that they wanted to sell it all. The County is willing to buy all 6.2 acres for the appraised value of $550,000. I think they plan on selling the part they don't need to someone else. (The Town would be a willing buyer.) So, this would end up costing them about $370,000 for land. The total would be $11,190,000.
It is almost exactly in the center of James Island and very close to the current site of the James Island branch. While the sidewalk access is currently poor, by the time it is built, that should greatly improve.
However, there is a major question. Is there a majority of JIPSD Commissioners willing to sell? Saying they will sell for $5 million could easily be just another way of saying that they don't want to sell at all.
The Baxter Patrick location on Grimball Rd would be "free" except the Charleston County School Board will want some accommodations estimated to cost $200,000. (I have heard it is tennis courts at James Island Elementary, but I am not sure.) Adding the $10,820,000 estimated cost of new construction, that results in $11,020,000.
It is located in a residental, semi-rural area of unincorporated Charleston County. There is currently sidewalk access, though for most James Islanders it would be a very long walk.
This site was ranked last by the Library board, but Charleston County's finance committee voted 5-2 in favor of this option.
There is a fourth site on Fort Johnson Rd. It is near Oceanview Drive. The land is 7 acres for $525,000. The owners want to sell it. Perhaps the County could find a partner to pay for the 3 acres they do not want. If they can find one, the total cost would be comparable to the Dills Bluff property. It was ranked third by the Library board.
The Fort Johnson site is close to the location existing branch and near the Dills Bluff alternative. There is sidewalk access now and by the time it is built, there will be connectivity with a large portion of the Island.
What do you think?