The best countertops make a statement in your home that other features cannot. You've worked hard to incorporate unique designs and flavors throughout your home, so why should your countertops be any different?
At Real Deal Countertops, we aspire to combine the beauty and durability of natural stone with unrivaled, personalized attention to all customers. With the highest quality materials and the most helpful customer service, we give our clients the opportunity to make informed decisions that they feel good about for years. Our story in the countertop fabrication and manufacturing industry began more than 19 years ago, when Rafael Quedevez started out as a sales representative in Massachusetts. Working his way up through the ranks, Rafael soon made his way to South Carolina to open and manage his own companies. In 2013, we created real Deal Countertops. Since that time, we are proud to have served more than 5,000 customers in South Carolina and beyond.
Our leadership team combines more than 40 years of experience in the home remodeling service industry. Always striving to create a better product for our customers, we use the latest in robotics technologies and the sharpest minds in the business to craft countertops of unparalleled quality. Unlike other countertop companies in North Charleston, SC, we only source the finest stone slabs in the world.
At Real Deal Countertops, we offer a wide range of styles and materials to choose from, including:
We are committed to ensuring that granite, marble, and other unique, exotic stones are attainable to all who desire them. If you're in search of a trustworthy counter company with a team of knowledgeable, helpful experts, you have come to the right place!
Most Popular Countertops in North Charleston, SC
Choosing the best countertops for your kitchen is an important decision, but it doesn't have to be a hard one. One of the best ways to narrow down your search is to find out what kind of countertop material you'd like to use. While it's true that material and style trends change over time, there are several counters that have always been top sellers.
Some of the most popular countertops we sell include:
Marble Countertops in North Charleston, SC
There's no way around it - marble adds jaw-dropping beauty to just about any room and is known for its good looks. It is a dense stone that comes in many different hues like greens, browns, pinks, greys, whites, and more. While marble countertops often have otherworldly beauty, they can be susceptible to stains and cracks. Marble is also considered one of the most expensive counters to choose from, though the truth is marble comes in a wide range of qualities and prices.
- Pros: Stunning beauty, plenty of beautiful choices.
- Cons: Not always used in kitchens due to chance of staining.
- Popular Colors: Portinari, Shadow Storm, Super White, Lumen, Calacatta Linconni, Nobulato Honned, Shadow, Grey Imperiale Honed.
Granite Countertops in North Charleston, SC
When it comes to popularity, granite countertops take the cake. Granite countertops usually contain a blend of quartz, feldspar, mica, and other minerals. Granite can add an edge of elegance and even a country-chic feel to your kitchen, making it a well-rounded stone. Granite is durable and scratch-resistant, though it can require sealing and DIY chip repair.
- Pros: Luxurious, rich look featuring natural stone that is durable, heat resistant, and scratch-resistant.
- Cons: Hard material that may require DIY chip repair and sealing.
- Popular Colors: Blue Jeans, Creama Pearl, Alure, Galaxy White, Luna Pear, Steel Grey, Ubatuba, Oro Brazil.
Quartz Countertops in North Charleston, SC
Quartz is a manufactured material that represents one of our favorite four-letter words: easy! If you're looking to add a high-end feel to your kitchen or bathroom, quartz is an excellent material to consider. Like granite, quartz countertops can add a decadent vibe to any room. Unlike granite, you may not have to seal quartz quite as often (if ever).
- Pros: Quartz countertops come in plenty of colors to choose from and are easy to clean. They are also strong, scratch-resistant, and don't require sealing.
- Cons: Quartz is not as heat resistant as other materials like granite counters. Sharp corners tend to crack, but that can be remedied with rounded corners.
- Popular Colors: Noble Grey, Raw Concrete, Frosty Carrina, Shitake, Pebble, Pietra Grey, Sierra Madre, Arctic.
Silestone Countertops in North Charleston, SC
A manufactured material made from quartz crystals, Silestone countertops are equal parts gorgeous and practical. Known for being a durable, non-porous choice, Silestone is resistant to stains, scratches, and even some forms of bacteria. Homeowners who choose Silestone do so because they can get a high-end look without having to worry too much about maintenance. Silestone counters look great in many different homes, from contemporary abodes with modern accents to vintage-looking kitchens.
- Pros: Silestone countertops are non-porous, meaning germs and bacteria can't lodge themselves inside this material. This makes Silestone counters great for kitchens and bathrooms alike. This material also comes in a wide variety of colors and resists scratches and chips. Overall, Silestone is an excellent choice if you want to make a solid long-term investment without much upkeep.
- Cons: While Silestone is great if you're looking for a low-maintenance counter option, it can be sensitive to harsh chemicals like bleach and ammonia. Silestone is also not recommended for outdoor use since the resins used to make the material do not do well with UV light.
- Popular Colors: Daria, Gray Expo, Lagoon, Calacatta Gold, Arctic, Blanco City, Gris Expo, Desert Silver
Quartzite Countertops in North Charleston, SC
Not to be confused with quartz countertops, which are manmade, quartzite is a naturally occurring stone that is quarried much in the same way that granite is. If you're a fan of marble counters, quartzite mimics its looks without as much upkeep. Like granite, it is a very durable choice and adds an upscale feeling to almost any room you choose.
- Pros: Since it doesn't require any special cleaners, quartzite looks great without much maintenance. When it gets dirty, soap and water should be all you need to clean. Quartzite is also a great long-term option since it doesn't wear down quickly at all.
- Cons: Heat is required to form quartzite. However, you should avoid putting hot pots and pans on your quartzite countertops. Because quartzite comes in many different varieties, some forms of quartzite need to be sealed more often than others.
- Popular Colors: Maya, Fusion, Locomotion, Callacata, Airy Concrete, Cocada White
Which Countertop is Right for You?
If you're just beginning your search for new countertops, it can be a little overwhelming trying to whittle down your options. We've got good news - with over 19 years in the industry, our team of experts has learned a thing or two about countertops. When you come to the Real Deal Countertops showroom, one of our goals is to educate you about our products and your countertop options, so you can make an educated purchasing decision.
How Will You Use Your Countertops in North Charleston?
The first and perhaps most crucial part of your countertop choice should stem from how you and your family use your countertops. For example, if you have kids, your counters will probably see a lot of activity. Between standard eating times and "in-between" meals that teens are known for, your counters might double as food prep stations. As such, you might need a countertop material that is resistant to most food and beverage stains. If you own a rental property that sees a lot of foot traffic from strangers, you might want to consider an economical material that is also durable.
- Do you cook a lot?
- Do you host a lot of parties?
- How long will you be living in your home?
- How long will you be living in your home?
Once you figure out exactly how you'll be using your countertops, you can begin to narrow down your choices.
How Much Upkeep Is Too Much?
Be realistic and honest with yourself about this question. Before you fall in love with how a countertop material looks, be sure you understand how much upkeep is needed. Some materials require more care, while others don't need much at all.
Keep these points in mind:
- Materials like quartz only need to be wiped down occasionally.
- Materials like granite, marble, and limestone will need to be sealed at least once a year.
- Some materials may be durable but aren't stain resistant.
The bottom line is this: Assess the maintenance demands that come along with the materials you're looking at. Marble countertops in North Charleston, SC are elegant, but if you'e unwilling to keep them looking their best, why bother buying the material?
You should be aware that most countertop materials will require some form of upkeep, even if it' minimal. To help keep your counters in pristine condition, consider these care and precaution tips:
- Many common foods contain acids that will dull or even damage the surface of stone countertops.Use coasters to protect your counters, especially if you'e drinking something with citrus juices or alcohol.
- Do not place scalding hot pots or pans directly on your countertops.
- Use mats or trivets to place under hot dishes.
- If you spill liquid on your countertops, blot the spill with a paper towel ASAP. Wiping the spill will cause it to spread.
- Use mild soap and plain water to clean up stains.
Which Colors and Materials Match Your Home's Aesthetics?
For many homeowners, this question is almost always top-of-mind. After all, you want to choose colors and materials that fit well with other features in your home. When selecting your countertop materials, try to choose a tone that contrasts with your other amenities, like your cabinets. Don't go for a perfect match. As an example, black granite is a beautiful contrast to white cabinets.
Consider these questions when choosing your countertop materials:
- Are there one or two colors that you love more than others?
- Does your choice go well with the color of your kitchen's walls?
- Do you want to switch up your kitchen's style or keep it the same?
- Will you be painting your kitchen a different color in the future?
- Will you be replacing your appliances soon?
Real Deal Countertops Pro Tip:
Because your home's accessories and paint job may change with time, your countertops should have a versatile color. That way, you won't have problems matching them with new paint colors or appliances.
Countertop Remodeling Done Right
At Real Deal Countertops, our #1 priority is your satisfaction. Unlike some countertop companies in North Charleston, we make it a point to exceed our customer's expectations. We strive for excellence with every transaction we complete and pledge to faithfully implement innovative techniques to ensure that our products remain affordable. With the help of Real Deal Countertops, remodeling your kitchen and bath will be painless and easy.
The appearance of a kitchen or bath depends on the right countertop selection, proper fabrication, and expert installation. Are you interested in granite countertops in North Charleston, SC? Maybe quartzite is a better choice for your family. Whatever you choose, know that our skilled installers and fabricators will make a template so that all custom pieces fit perfectly in your home.
What Clients Say About Us
Countertop Installation for Sue Gregory
Custom Countertops for Ellen Bowdon
Granite Countertops for Holly Washington
Kitchen Countertops for CFR Williams
Quartz Countertops for Judy Galuppo
Countertop Installation for Emma Fitzpatrick
Laminate Countertops for Carla Greene
Countertop Replacement for Barbara Piper
New Countertop for Daney Herrera
Custom Countertops for bob shafer
Granite Countertops for MrMunsters1313
Kitchen Remodel for Barbara Piper
Kitchen Countertops for Carol Moura
Quartz Countertops for Shoshanna Richek
Marble Countertops for David Glunt
Latest News in North Charleston, SC
SHL Medical announces plans for a new manufacturing site in North Charleston, South Carolina
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C., July 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- SHL Medical (hereinafter referred to as "SHL") has revealed plans for a new manufacturing site in North Charleston, South Carolina, in response to the growing market demand for its autoinjector product portfolio. The decision stems from SHL's strategic assessments in extending its production to North America. ...
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C., July 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- SHL Medical (hereinafter referred to as "SHL") has revealed plans for a new manufacturing site in North Charleston, South Carolina, in response to the growing market demand for its autoinjector product portfolio. The decision stems from SHL's strategic assessments in extending its production to North America.
The new US site will be located in North Charleston, South Carolina, and will boast approximately 25,000 m2 (270,000 ft2). With initial investments of US$ 90 million, SHL is expected to create an estimate of 165 local employment opportunities. Operations are expected to launch by 2024.
The South Carolina site will be an advanced facility with medical device injection molding and fully automated assembly capabilities. Together with SHL's current final assembly, labeling, and packaging operations in Deerfield Beach, Florida, the expanded manufacturing capabilities in the US will further fortify SHL's offerings in delivering comprehensive services to its partners.
In 2019, SHL developed a long-term strategy in response to the growing autoinjector demand and to meet future manufacturing needs. The announcement of the new US operation aligns with the company's ongoing expansion, including a new Swiss site already being announced. The new production site in the US, which is to be realized preferentially and accelerated, will offer fully automated production facilities and a flexible supply chain with reduced distance to main markets.
Chairman and CEO Ulrich Faessler comments: "Demand for SHL's products has increased significantly. Therefore, we are speeding up our plans for a new plant in the US. Similar to our upcoming European site in Zug, Switzerland, the US site will be a state-of-the-art, fully automated site. This expansion signifies SHL's pledge to our advanced manufacturing strategy that will support our sustainability goals; and, at the same time, risk-mitigate supply chain disturbances through closer production with our customers, in light of various global events from the past two years. This further supports our customers with one-stop-shop capabilities, providing high-quality drug delivery systems to the end-users – the patients."
Media Contact Rylie Geraci BCW Global email@example.com
SOURCE SHL Medical
New state law expands kinship care to help more children in SC foster care system
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WIS) - It takes someone with a big heart to step in and care for a child if their parents can’t.The state agency that oversees South Carolina’s foster care system said, in many cases, the best person to do that is someone the child already has a relationship with and who knows them.“Caregivers are special people, and it’s not easy. It’s not easy being a caregiver,” Virgie Anderson, a kinship caregiver in the Lowcountry, said.It’s a role Anderson knows well...
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WIS) - It takes someone with a big heart to step in and care for a child if their parents can’t.
The state agency that oversees South Carolina’s foster care system said, in many cases, the best person to do that is someone the child already has a relationship with and who knows them.
“Caregivers are special people, and it’s not easy. It’s not easy being a caregiver,” Virgie Anderson, a kinship caregiver in the Lowcountry, said.
It’s a role Anderson knows well, having cared for five of her grandchildren at one point and still caring for one now.
“There were lots of needs for the children,” she said. “They were going through so much. They needed financial help and there were mental problems, so there is so many needs that we have, so I’m glad for today.”
Anderson joined state leaders and fellow caregivers Thursday at Charleston HALOS — an organization that supports family members and loved ones who step into a caregiving role for children in the foster system — to celebrate a new state law, which Gov. Henry McMaster commemoratively signed.
.@henrymcmaster ceremonially signs a new SC law allowing fictive kin — people who aren’t related by birth, adoption or marriage to a child but have a significant relationship with them — to receive resources + support from @SC_DSS if they serve as that child’s kinship caregiver. pic.twitter.com/0y4gnPzKiT— Mary Green (@MaryGreenNews) September 22, 2022
The law, which went into effect in May, expands the definition of kinship care, which is when a loved one cares for a child when their parent isn’t able to do so, to now include fictive kin.
Those are people not related by birth, marriage, or adoption to a child but who share a significant emotional relationship with them, like a family friend, neighbor, or coach.
“This new law will help us protect children, getting them to a safe environment while lessening the trauma that comes with removing a child from the home,” Sen. Katrina Shealy, R – Lexington and the bill’s sponsor at the State House, said.
Shealy’s bill passed both the state Senate and the House of Representatives unanimously, and South Carolina is now the 29th state in the country with this type of legislation in place.
The new law allows fictive kin caregivers to receive support and resources from the state to help them, as well as access services, such as being able to obtain a copy of the child’s birth certificate.
“It’s important to make sure when you’re taking on children, it costs money, right. So this allows at least children who may have come into the foster care system to work toward a connection with kin and maybe the broader fictive kin to where we can support them,” Department of Social Services Director Michael Leach said.
Leach’s department oversees South Carolina’s foster care system, and currently, about one in five children in it are being cared for by a kinship caregiver.
DSS estimates there are about 70,000 kinship caregivers in South Carolina at this time, though not all of them are in the DSS system.
“We’re seeing children enter the foster care system, but we know they have connections — family connections, fictive kin-type connections — and we need to make sure that they’re connected with those folks to minimize trauma, to help with cultural connections because they do better,” Leach said.
This new kinship care law isn’t the only one passed this year to strengthen South Carolina’s foster system: Another recent change now allows children in the state’s custody to receive DSS support and services until they are 21. Those resources had previously been cut off at 18.
But Leach said the work is far from done to help children in South Carolina’s foster system.
When the new legislative session begins in January, he’s asking the General Assembly to approve a type of program that supports permanent placements for foster children living with kinship caregivers if they are out of state custody. Leach said 40 other states already have a program like this in place.
People who are interested in fostering, in the traditional sense or through kinship care, can learn more by visiting heartfeltcalling.org. Leach said South Carolina is in particular need of caregivers for teenagers, who make up about 30% of kids in the foster care system.
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How one store in North Charleston left many without furniture or refunds
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — How long would you wait for that the right new sofa or kitchen table? Some customers of a North Charleston furniture store say they’ve been waiting for two years now and claim they’re getting the runaround.ABC News 4 received multiple reports directly to our newsroom of this, and one we found was Goose Cree...
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — How long would you wait for that the right new sofa or kitchen table? Some customers of a North Charleston furniture store say they’ve been waiting for two years now and claim they’re getting the runaround.
ABC News 4 received multiple reports directly to our newsroom of this, and one we found was Goose Creek mother and daughter Brittany and Shelby Fox.
“We're gonna tell the story start to finish, and you know, just cut out the nonsense,” Brittany Fox said.
On January 15, 2021, the Foxes bought a new dresser online from Home Décor Outlets from its North Charleston location. But the process of getting the furniture to their doorstep took longer than they expected.
“They told me after the first [of February] that it would get delivered. It never came,” Shelby said. “There was one contact where they said something about there was going to be a delay with the dresser could be up to six months.”
So, the mother and daughter waited. And waited.
“I have to chase them,” Shelby said. Then waited some more.
“It was just dead silence from there,” Brittany said.
Now, almost two years later – they still have nothing. They said there was one constant throughout the process: “The runaround was consistent.”
No furniture or money received by the family. Besides the receipt they have from their purchase, the only thing they say they actually got from Home Décor Outlets: Ads.
“[They were] trying to sell me a mattress,” Shelby said. “Yeah, spamming my phone pretty much. But never offering money back.”
As the time went by and the furniture had yet to arrive, the Foxes turned positions and tried to get their money back. Only to find out: “They could not refund my debit card.”
The Foxes say the company told them they had a no-refund policy and the only possible way to get one was to fill out a form and apply, where the refund would only be granted under certain occasions. The whole concept was something that confused the Foxes.
“We never even got a product at this point. It's not even a refund, it's a cancellation,” Brittany Fox said.
So I tried to get in touch with the company. I called the executive board, the phone numbers listed at their corporate websites and the phone number for the North Charleston store location. But all the phone numbers either went straight to voicemail or to dial tone alerting the phone had been disconnected.
After more than an hour, I gave up calling, got in the car and took a trip to the North Charleston store location.
It was the same thing customers like Brittany and Shelby Fox did after having their attempts at communication fall through. But much like the Foxes, when I arrived, I realized there were going to be no answers.
The store was closed with no furniture. Instead, just the remnants of a business.
So why was this the case? I did some digging and found the company had its Better Business Bureau accreditation revoked in January of 2022 for not responding to claims like the Foxes' and others that came in to government offices.
“We had eight complaints over the course of the last six years,” said Bailey Parker, Communications Director for the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs. “I'd say the majority of them came in from 2020 to 2022.”
But even the SC Department of Consumer Affairs had a problem contacting Home Décor Outlets.
“They were not getting back to us on a number of these complaints and didn't ever respond to the initial point of contact from us.”
After some more digging, we found out in February of 2022, the company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Furthermore, just days after the interview with the Foxes, they received a letter from Georgia’s bankruptcy court suggesting the Home Décor Outlets convert from chapter 11 to chapter 7 bankruptcy. It would mean the company would have to close all their stores and liquidate their assets.
However, the documents still give no timetable on when these claims will be resolved and if any money is guaranteed to these customers.
“Consumers are most likely not going to be the ones that get paid back. First, it's going to be the other major creditors that they probably owe debt to,” Parker said.
We also learned from the Georgia Court of Bankruptcy, the company received loans through Covid relief, which they are required to pay 20 percent back, as well as general business loans, and they have missed 15 out of 19 payments -- not a good sign for customers.
“At the end of the day, if they don't have money, they don't have anything left, they can't pay,” Parker said.
So what are these customers options at this point?
“The only options that a consumer would have is taking the business to magistrates court, which in my opinion, is not a great option,” Parker said.
The money spent on attorneys for magistrate court could be larger than the money lost in some of these claims. Parker does say waiting to see the results of the bankruptcy court might be the best option.
Meanwhile, the Foxes ended up finding a suitable replacement dresser elsewhere. But still, after going through this whole experience, they left one piece of advice for any consumers in the state.
“Don’t just check the reviews on the product, check the reviews on the business.”
From panic over results of newborn screening to gratitude for the early diagnosis
Brittany Morris was thrilled to welcome her second child into the world. In her eyes, James was perfect.But newborn screening, which tests for certain disorders that aren’t obvious at birth, would soon give her and her doctors important information that would help give him a healthier future. The screening involved drawing blood from the baby’s heel and sending it to the South Carolina Department of Health and Env...
Brittany Morris was thrilled to welcome her second child into the world. In her eyes, James was perfect.
But newborn screening, which tests for certain disorders that aren’t obvious at birth, would soon give her and her doctors important information that would help give him a healthier future. The screening involved drawing blood from the baby’s heel and sending it to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Public Health Lab, then letting the parents know about the results.
“Something came back abnormal. So they told us to do the newborn screen again at the doctor’s office. And we did it again, and it came back abnormal a second time. That’s when they told me he has Pompe disease,” Morris said.
Morris had never heard of it. Her reaction? “Panic, I guess, immediately. Yeah, because they tell you not to Google what Pompe disease is because the information is outdated.”
Pompe disease is rare, affecting an estimated 1 in every 40,000 births. It’s hereditary and can be fatal, depending on its severity and progression. It’s important to catch it early, like James’ doctors did.
The disease is caused by an abnormality in a gene called GAA, which leads to an inability for the alpha-glucosidase enzyme to break down a complex sugar, called glycogen, in the body. As glycogen builds up, primarily in the heart and muscles, it causes damage to the way muscles work.
Pompe disease was added to the conditions South Carolina screens babies for in February of 2021. James was born three months later. Without that crucial test, Morris wouldn’t have known he needed treatment ASAP.
“I probably would’ve noticed delayed motor skills, but then that still would have left doctors saying, ‘You know, every baby’s different.’ Or, ‘Some babies do things later and maybe it’s not anything.’ And I don’t know that any doctor would’ve automatically thought, ‘Oh, it’s Pompe disease.’ There’s some doctors that never knew that existed.”
Morris is sharing James’ story during Newborn Screening Awareness Month, a time that highlights the importance of catching harmful conditions early so they can be treated without delay to get the best outcome possible for the child.
For James, that meant seeing the only doctor in South Carolina who is currently treating Pompe disease in babies: Neena Champaigne, M.D., chief of the MUSC Genetics and Genomics Integrated Centers of Clinical Excellence.
“James actually has what we call late-onset Pompe disease because he didn’t develop cardiac symptoms. In the classic infantile-onset, these babies usually present at about 4 or 5 months with cardiac failure and significant muscle weakness, and without treatment, these babies used to die in the first or second year of life,” Champaigne said.
“Catching it early, we’re able to put them on enzyme replacement therapy, giving them back the enzyme that their body isn’t able to produce. And it removes the storage material, which is glycogen, from the muscles and the heart.”
James’s mother drives them from Johnsonville, which is near Florence, to North Charleston every other week so he can get that therapy at the MUSC Children’s Health R. Keith Summey Medical Pavilion. The drive takes about two hours each way, and the therapy, which involves enzyme infusion, takes four hours. The Morrises are in the process of getting their home set up so they can do the enzyme therapy there.
James also sees a team of specialists at MUSC Children’s Health. He has genetic counselors, a metabolic dietitian, a neurologist, a cardiologist, and he’s about to start seeing an audiologist.
“I would say it’s taken a year to get into the swing of things. I feel like it has gotten easier now,” his mom said.
James will have to be closely monitored and keep getting the enzyme treatment for the foreseeable future, Champaigne said. “But because treatment is so new, we don’t know what the landscape is going to be for the future because we’ve altered the typical course of this condition.”
James’ mother hopes the course of James’ disease, picked up by newborn screening, will allow him to have a full life. “My hope is that one day maybe there’ll be a cure and he can live his life without having infusions every other week so that he can be just like every other person. I think other than that, other than infusions, he’ll just take longer to do things like walking. But I think he’ll have a life, even if they don’t cure it.”
The SCDHEC Newborn Screening Program currently tests for 53 disorders. Beginning the week of Sept. 26, spinal muscular atrophy screening will be added to the panel. There are plans to add three more conditions in 2023.
North Charleston neighborhood split by I-26 could be reconnected with affordable housing
NORTH CHARLESTON — One day, a 7-year-old Michael Nesbitt walked into an appliance store at the Pinehaven Shopping Center with his parents.This was in the early 1960s, an era when the civil rights movement was sweeping through the country. Cities everywhere, including Charleston and its surrounding communities, were slowly integrating public spaces.Nesbitt’s father, Johnny, had wanted to make a purchase at the store, which sold household items like washing machines, dryers and refrigerators. But he couldn’t. A ...
NORTH CHARLESTON — One day, a 7-year-old Michael Nesbitt walked into an appliance store at the Pinehaven Shopping Center with his parents.
This was in the early 1960s, an era when the civil rights movement was sweeping through the country. Cities everywhere, including Charleston and its surrounding communities, were slowly integrating public spaces.
Nesbitt’s father, Johnny, had wanted to make a purchase at the store, which sold household items like washing machines, dryers and refrigerators. But he couldn’t. A White male store worker told Johnny Nesbitt — a truck driver for 45 years who never missed a day, his son said — that he couldn’t buy the item because the father didn’t have any credit.
The Nesbitt family left the store empty-handed.
A few years later, that incident lingered in the back of the child’s mind when Nesbitt, then 9, watched construction crews clearing homes in Union Heights to make way for the incoming Interstate 26. The highway — the portion from Columbia to Charleston was completed in 1969 — was constructed during a time when “urban renewal” road projects were built throughout Black communities, causing economic and physical damage.
The interstate’s Exit 218 at Spruill Avenue split Union Heights in half. The neighborhood, founded shortly after the Civil War by freed slaves who settled on an abandoned plantation, lost businesses, homes and houses of worship. Furthermore, the project disrupted the community’s cohesiveness and vibrancy.
“I thought to myself, ‘Here they go again — White folks are taking stuff from us,’” said Nesbitt, now 64, recalling how the highway project displaced his aunt’s sweet shop and his family’s church, Francis Brown United Methodist. “We just felt like we were being infringed upon.”
Today, decades later, there is a chance at stitching Union Heights back together while also making good use of the now-vacant Exit 218 property by creating affordable housing on the site. And government officials have a chance to, in a way, right a past wrong. But the effort will have its challenges — mainly in keeping the new houses affordable in the community that has seen property values rapidly rise.
Coming up with a plan
The S.C. Department of Transportation is in the process of transferring to the city ownership of the former site of the interstate exit, now an empty stretch of land between Joppa and Irving avenues.
The ramp was removed during construction of the Port Access Road that leads to the new Leatherman Terminal. A quitclaim deed has been submitted to the Charleston County Register of Deeds office, according to DOT. The transfer of the property was an environmental commitment noted in the community mitigation plan for the port project.
The former highway ramp is now open land with overgrown vegetation. Houses on the north and south sides of the neighborhood — once divided by infrastructure — are now visible to each other. The idea is to fill the empty strip with new homes and mend the once divided neighborhood.
The North Charleston-based Coastal Community Foundation has taken the lead on drafting a preliminary plan for the site. For the past few years, the foundation has been engaged in community conversations up and down the South Carolina coast with neighborhoods to get a sense of the most important needs.
“In those conversations, one of the key areas that came up time and again was affordable housing,” CCF program officer Kaela Hammond told dozens of people during an Aug. 23 Union Heights neighborhood meeting.
Since 2017, the foundation has partnered with Boeing to work with local organizations to help implement affordable housing in North Charleston neighborhoods. To that end, the foundation partnered with F.A. Johnson II, a developer who has been dubbed CCF’s technical adviser, to survey potential properties for new homes.
“One site that kept coming up throughout all the community conversations we had was the former Exit 218,” Hammond said.
CCF’s role in all of this is to bring together community groups — such as Habitat For Humanity, the Community First Land Trust and others — to help create a vision for the site.
“Our goal is to bring those partners together with community residents to make sure that this property is developed in a way that’s respectful of the community fabric, your history here, and that’s really driven by community input,” Hammond told residents at the meeting.
“The real big question is how do we keep this in quasi-public hands?” he said. “Certainly a private developer could come in, purchase it and do something that’s not consistent (with) what goals and objectives may be communitywide.”
The city seems to be amenable to CCF’s proposal. Councilman Michael Brown called the idea a “good plan” and said the overall goal for the Exit 218 property is to see affordable housing on the site.
Making the homes affordable
The challenge remains in how these organizations can keep newly built homes at a reasonable price.
The proposal, which is not finalized, was presented during the Aug. 23 meeting to solicit community feedback before it is presented to the city for consideration. It calls for 30 houses across the 2-acre lot. Roughly $3.6 million to $4.1 million would likely need to be raised as subsidy to build the homes at affordable levels, Johnson said.
The cheapest range proposed for the houses was $154,000 to $220,000. That’s for a single-family household making $51,000 to $73,000, which is 80 percent of the Charleston area median income, Johnson said.
Many residents said the proposed price range is not based on a realistic assessment of the incomes of the people in Union Heights. Doris Ferguson said she is concerned that those who rent houses in the neighborhood wouldn’t be able to afford to buy the new homes, if they’re ever built.
“You should base it on the income of the people here if you want to give us a chance,” Ferguson said.
Other concerns, like flooding, were also raised. The neighborhood is known to see high water levels when it rains. Residents at the meeting said they have complained about flooding for years, but nothing has been done to fix the problem. New homes will only exacerbate the issue, they said.
The North Charleston-based Community First Land Trust, a local organization formed several years ago with the goal of creating affordable housing in communities, could play a role in keeping the homes affordable.
More than 200 land trusts exist nationwide, and they are designed to help low-income homeowners build equity.
Typically, the land trust first obtains the land. It then engages a contractor to build homes on the properties. People then buy the homes at reasonable prices, but the trust keeps the land so that residents are not displaced.
The Community First trust has a partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Through their collaboration, Habitat has already built two homes in the neighborhood on lots owned by the trust. Two more homes are in the works.
The houses will sell for about $160,000, said Skip Mikell, who’s with the land trust and also serves as president of the Union Heights neighborhood association.
The Exit 218 project could be an effort to help fend off gentrification, something that has already touched the community that is increasingly seeing more White homeowners and new development on the fringes.
Like several other neighborhoods between Charleston and North Charleston in what is known as the Neck Area, Union Heights has seen property values skyrocket due to developmental pressure from areas both north and south of its boundaries.
Nesbitt said he, like other Union Heights homeowners, get calls almost daily from people seeking to buy and likely flip the property for large profits.
“The calls have become borderline harassment,” Nesbitt said.
Some in the neighborhood are excited about the prospect of getting the Exit 218 land returned to the community.
“I was excited about the fact that we could knit our community back,” said Henrietta Woodward. “Why should we not get that property back?”