Charleston, S.C.—Driving up Meeting St in downtown Charleston looks a little different these days. Some are calling the area “Midtown” others call it “NoMo.” There are new schools, restaurants and companies popping up on upper Meeting St. that were not there just a few years ago.
You can see the some of the construction as you drive up Meeting, but what you cannot see are all the places popping up tucked back in the side streets. For example, the restaurant Butcher and Bee just started serving meals at their new location on Morrison Dr. Also, Home Team BBQ opened up a downtown location earlier this month on Williman St.
A lot of the people eating at these places are employees of new companies that opened up on upper Meeting in the last few years. Among those who moved in are SIB, Blue Acorn and Revelry Brewing. One of the owners at Revelry Brewing said there was risk involved when they chose to move to a place where few were before them, but he said it’s paid off. Now others are following suit. The Senior VP of Business Development at SIB said they went from being one of the only ones in the area to now having trouble with parking.
There are a few allures to the area. First, the building regulations on this part of the peninsula are not as strict as there are in the heart of downtown. We talked to people as they ate lunch at Hometeam BBQ. One man said, you still get the feel of being downtown without the hassle. This brings up the second reason why people are drawn to the area.
Second, there is a convenience factor. After layering his sandwich with BBQ sauce, an employee of a nearby business said it is easy for him to get there, park and get out. Revelry’s owner said he can walk from friends’ houses to dinner without ever having to put money in a meter.
Third, access thanks to proximity to interstates. These new places are situated right at the base of the Ravenel Bridge and I-26, while still being on the peninsula. That makes it so that people coming from Mount Pleasant, North Charleston and downtown can all get here with ease.
Fourth, there is a high level of cooperation and coordination with all the businesses here. The owner at Revelry said there is a real neighborhood feel in the area. They are partnering with the new Lewis BBQ that is set to open later this year. They are working on a beer that couples perfectly with the BBQ. Similarly, Lewis BBQ will pay a local church to use their parking lot when the church does not need it.
This is a unique area also because there are all of these new places going up right next to homes and churches that have been there for years. We talked to one man who has lived in the area his whole life and is the deacon at the church that will share its parking with Lewis BBQ. He said all of the people buying up all the property are very nice people and try to be good neighbors, just like they try to be good neighbors.
However, there is some opposition to the new construction. State House Representative Wendell Gilliard said this is part of a gentrification trend in Charleston and there needs to be a solution to tame it. He said he is not anti-development, but wants there to be more systems in place to protect the people of low income who have lived on the peninsula their whole lives. He wants to see a minority economic development plan that allows for new development, while still preserving the lives of people who live there now.
Upper Meeting, Midtown, NoMo or whatever you want to call it continues to grow. Later this year, Lewis BBQ will join the ranks of restaurants like Santis Restaurante Mexicano, Tatooed Moose, Butcher and Bee, Edmund’s Oast and Hometeam. Also constriction continues for the new Meeting Street Academy. They started Phase 2 of construction in the fall of 2015. They are building additional classrooms to accommodate more students downtown. Many say the new places we see now are just the start.