A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity of interviewing the new mayor of Charleston, Amy Schuler Goodwin. I asked many people across the community what questions or concerns they wanted to bring to our city government, and how they thought the city in general was doing a few months into the transition of power.
The most overwhelming concerns, of the people I spoke with, both teens and adults, was the future of the Charleston Town Center mall.
When presented with this question, Goodwin said, “The Charleston Town Center is a vital component to our city, and the Mayor’s Office is working very hard to make sure that this centerpiece of the Charleston downtown is thriving for years to come.”
Goodwin then followed up this statement by explaining that “the main priority of the city is to provide shoppers at the mall with a safe and friendly experience through and through, and I believe that while the mall has always had its ups and downs, it will most certainly overcome this one and stay central to this community for many years to come.”
In close relation to the well-being of the mall, Goodwin also talked about the possible plans for the renovations of Slack Plaza.
“Slack Plaza is the heartbeat of downtown, and when you have invested $100 million into the renovations to the Charleston [Coliseum &] Convention Center and you have a thriving downtown shopping area at Capitol Street, it is simply a shame to have an outdated, spike covered concrete plaza separating the two,” Goodwin said. “The situation was as if the Charleston [Coliseum &] Convention Center was one end of a highway and Capitol Street the other, but Slack Plaza was supposed to be the middle section. It was never completed, thus impeding travel along the route.”
Speaking of ideas for the redevelopment of the plaza, Goodwin shared several graphics of different layout ideas for the plaza; all of these layouts shared the similar theme of breaking down the antiquated concrete plaza and making it into a neutral green space, then setting up a dedicated building for the KRT and allowing a space on Summers Street for a possible food truck venue and a small sit down area.
Goodwin said that this plan would “restore the beating heart of the Charleston downtown and make it an inviting space to gather with friends and family.” She also emphasized that public safety would be a key element in making this project a true success.
When asked what she thought was most important for Charleston to thrive in the future, Goodwin responded almost instantly.
“Our young people is what is going to allow Charleston to thrive in the future,” she said. “They bring a light to this city that nothing else can.”
Goodwin then made an appeal to all the young people in Charleston, saying that she wants them to have a seat at the table since they are the future of this city. She wants them to get involved and get invested because when young people get involved, the city has a bigger appeal to other like-minded individuals who want to come and make Charleston a better place.
After this meeting, I have even more confidence for the future of Charleston with the newly renovated $100 million dollar Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center, and a new mayor with new ideas, listening to local community leaders and heeding their advice on what needs to be done within the city.
We have everything going for us. We need to believe in ourselves, our city, our leadership, and never underestimate the West Virginian spirit. Montani semper liberi. Mountaineers are always free.