A Q&A with Keith Summey, Mayor of The City of North Charleston: A focus on growth and preservation | Business

Mayor Keith Summey has been the City of North Charleston’s mayor since 1994. He is the third mayor of North Charleston and under his leadership, the City has undergone positive changes, most importantly – defining a vision for the future. Part of that vision means improving the quality of life of North Charleston’s citizens. Through promoting a skilled workforce, major employers have made their headquarters in North Charleston.

An aerial shot of the Riverfront Park’s $1 million plus renovation in North Charleston. Riverfront Park is the site of North Charleston’s Annual National Outdoor Sculpture Competition and Exhibition, part of North Charleston’s Arts Festival. Photo/North Charleston.org.

The City of North Charleston has received national recognition – the National League of Cities Award for Municipal Excellence and Home Depots’ Foundation’s Award of Excellence for Sustainable Community Development.

The North Charleston new Aquatics Center’s at 8610 Patriot Blvd opened in late July. It currently offers lap swimming, open swimming and water aerobics. Schedules are updated on a continual basis based upon the CDC’s guidelines and recommendations for COVID-19. Photo/North Charleston.org.

Among his many public service accomplishments, Mayor Summey is known for his fairness and bipartisanship. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Pubic Service in 2006 from Charleston Southern University. Born in Cottageville, South Carolina, he and his family live in North Charleston.


I reached out to the Office of the Mayor to ask a few questions about what plans are in store for North Charleston. Below is what Mayor Summey had to say.

Q: What is a key factor in regards to the City’s growth?

Infill developments continues to be a key focus for the City of North Charleston. Repurposing and enhancing underutilized properties are essential. It is a smart growth strategy.

Q: What commercial developments are undergoing construction now? Can you mention any new plans for that kind of development and how they will benefit the communities of North Charleston?

The Palmetto Commerce Parkway corridor is the region’s premier location for large commercial and industrial uses. Thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of capital investment has occurred.

Q: North Charleston is a big draw for businesses all over the globe – what incentives does North Charleston offer businesses?

The City doesn’t give direct incentives, but we guarantee a smooth regulatory process to get our businesses up and running as quickly as possible. The faster a business’s doors open, the quicker they hire. North Charleston remains ripe for businesses to flourish. Although we are always elated to announce large commerce projects, we take the most pride in the backbone of our business community, our small, homegrown businesses.

Q: How does the most recent plan, “PRIME North Charleston” address qualify of life for North Charleston residents?

With a little over 43 percent of the City’s housing over 40 years old, some dilapidated, efforts have been made to address this. Funding allocated through the City’s Community Block Grant Program which enabled $2.5 million of investment in rehabilitating 68 homes for eligible residents over the past 10 years. Preserving and enhancing existing neighborhoods is accomplished through collaborative planning efforts and programs. Newer communities have homeowner’s associations that keep properties and infrastructure in acceptable condition.

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Q: Is there further work or discussion about the proposed light rail system that will go through North Charleston to help ease commuter traffic?

The latest plan for a bus rapid transit system from Summerville to Charleston, named Lowcountry Rapid Transit, calls for extending the system down the Charleston peninsula to the medical district. Provided.

The proposed Lowcountry rapid transit system will be a 26-mile rapid transit system that will connect Charleston, North Charleston and Summerville. It will be the state’s first rapid transit system and plans are for a bus rapid transit system. Based on a number of factors, including significantly higher costs, light rail wasn’t identified as a practical solution. Plans are for dedicated lanes in the corridor and service will be every 10 minutes. It will get you from Summerville to downtown in an hour. New stations locations will get commuters to key areas such as employment hubs. Construction is expected to begin in 2023 and it’s expected to open in 2025.

The Lowcountry Rapid Transit will connect Charleston, North Charleston and Summerville, with 27 proposed station areas. Estimated cost is $360 million and annual estimated operation costs of $5.9 million. Provided.

Q: You have been mayor for decades. What do you consider some of your best accomplishments? Challenges?

Improving quality of life, enhancing municipal services, and building upon a vision for the City have always been my priorities. We continue to be the commerce hub of the State of South Carolina, allowing great jobs for all skill levels within the community. There are always external forces to contend with, but working with our residents, we strive to build consensus and look to a better tomorrow.

Q: You and your family live in North Charleston. What are some of the reasons why it’s a great place to live and raise a family?

North Charleston promotes a laid-back lifestyle with walkable communities and sustainable living. Smart growth has led to North Charleston becoming South Carolina’s third largest municipality, right in the heart of the South Carolina’s Lowcountry. Affordable living, minutes away from all of the region’s great amenities. North Charleston is a great place to work, live, and play.


To learn more about plans for the Lowcountry Rapid Transit, visit https://lowcountryrapidtransit.com/resources.html.

To learn more about Mayor Summey and the City of North Charleston visit www.northcharleston.org.

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