Nestled above North Charleston is the bedroom community of Goose Creek, a town named for its waterway path.
The town of Goose Creek certainly has its plethora of residential neighborhoods, however a cohesive town center has always been lacking. Blocks of strip malls, yes – but a walkable downtown, no. With their new ten year plan, that scenario may be changing at last.
Skipping the Center
The origins of today’s Goose Creek can be mostly attributed to nearby military institutions during World War II, after which the GI Bill brought an inundation of new residents.
By the 1960s the town incorporated and began to establish infrastructure that was clearly designed from the mindset of suburban sprawl – through the 1970s-80s Goose Creek developed large residential neighborhoods supported by big shopping centers and strip malls.
Any town center was neither cohesive nor even identifiable. Though its town council produced comprehensive plans as required by state law, there was zero political will to substantially change the urban fabric – the zoning ordinances have remained mostly untouched since 1985 if that conveys a sense of how development has been marshaled in Goose Creek.
Goose Creek deserves better
Ask anyone who lives there, and most will carry on about how much they love “the Creek.” The natural beauty, pretty neighborhoods, and convenience to employers are all positive aspects of the town.
The schools are nice and the homes are affordable.
But for a night out to a proper restaurant or to see a show? You’re probably heading to Park Circle, Summerville, or Downtown Charleston.
That’s too bad, and it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m very pleased to observe the current town council making real progress in creating a downtown for Goose Creek.
How does one “create” a downtown? The concept of new urbanism isn’t new: it’s the process of establishing a city-like district atop a new or existing urban fabric.
It should be more dense, mixed use, and walkable – this was a natural inclination for centuries before sprawl became a thing.
The New Plan for Goose Creek
It turns out that creating a downtown atop an existing town is, not surprisingly, rather difficult – both physically and politically.
The solution in the works is smart: rather than one urbanized core, identify multiple smaller “nodes” – re-work the zoning for these spots to encourage the development of what will become villages that serve the surrounding residential neighborhoods.
In addition to the village nodes, Goose Creek does plan on developing a cohesive “central village” to function as its downtown. The spot is familiar to residents: a civic and commercial area between Goose Creek Boulevard and St. James Avenue – sort of a de facto “entrance” to Goose Creek from North Charleston.
The Central Village:
- three-story mixed use buildings with active street fronts – retail on the ground level, office and residential space above
- front entrances oriented to sidewalks, parking relegated to behind the buildings
- placemaking with pocket greens space for playgrounds, public art, and dog parks
- residential zoning to promote efficient apartments, condominiums and townhouses
Fully realized, the central village of Goose Creek would be a vibrant urban core with a combination of shops, restaurants, residences, and offices established in a street grid.
The infrastructure would promote walkability and bicycles along with plenty of green space, all to enhance the livability of Goose Creek.