Completed in 2000, The South Carolina Aquarium, showcases exhibits of South Carolina’s waterways from the mountains to the sea and includes thousands of animals and plants. Also completed in 2000, and located adjacent to the South Carolina Aquarium, is the new IMAX Theatre.
The Ashley River Walkway – a combination bikeway and promenade – is in the planning stages and will wrap around the eastern side of the Peninsula. Ultimately, the Walkway would link the new City baseball stadium, just north of Brittlebank Park on the Ashley River, with the South Carolina Aquarium
A major catalyst in the City’s revitalization was the completion of Charleston Place in 1986. This luxury hotel/retail complex draws a steady stream of customers to its shops as well as to neighboring stores and restaurants along King, Meeting and Market Streets. With the Hampton Inn redevelopment, the refurbishment of the stately Francis Marion Hotel and the conversion of the old Citadel into Embassy Suites, this area is experiencing a resounding boom. A well-appointed landmark, Marion Square Park is undergoing a redesign and will be entirely surrounded by development successes and two revered churches.
In 1991, Charleston opened the gates to its Visitor Reception and Transportation Center (VRTC) on Meeting Street. The VRTC represents a significant alliance of historic preservation and tourism management. It is housed in an 1856 railroad freight station. In the renovation of the structure, the City has salvaged the rustic feel of the old depot – original beams and pine floors still greet the Charleston visitor.
Several other developments enlivened the City and secured its position as a wonderful place to live. In 1990, the City completed the Waterfront Park – an eight-acre linear park and pier along the Charleston Harbor entry. The park masterfully combines spectacular fountains, spacious lawns, intimate garden “rooms”, plenty of walking and jogging paths and a long wharf with picnic tables and wooden swings. Additional waters-edge projects afford greater public access to the water, including the Charleston Maritime Center, which will establish a permanent home for the shrimping industry and include a special events pier with public access to the water.
Another extraordinary economic opportunity avails itself as a nearby sixty – five acres, known as Union Pier, offers prime development sites for hotel, retail, office and residential, deep in the historic district. A full complement of boulevards, parks and vistas are planned to ensure an ambiance befitting the historic district.