Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is one of the most widely used economic
development tools in the nation. In 2008, Charleston, South Carolina, designated the Cooper River Bridge neighborhood (CRBN) as its fourth TIF district. The planning process is now underway, and many large redevelopment projects have already started construction. Private investors will receive funding to develop vacant lots and revitalize dilapidated properties, and the City will benefit economically from new property taxes added to the revenue roll. City officials have anticipated the economic change this TIF district will provide, but have they properly anticipated the changes that will occur to the socio-cultural and historic fabric of the CRBN?
The City of Charleston states the main goal in redevelopment process is to re-knit the CRBN. However, a social, cultural, and historic resources inventory of this community has never been completed. TIF districts radically transform neighborhood conditions, but will these transformations have a positive or negative impact on the re-knitting this community? City officials cannot measure the successes and failures of TIF district implementation without having a foundation on which to base analysis. Developing a holistic inventory, termed a Neighborhood Snapshot Inventory (NSI), of the current condition of the CRBN will inform decision makers on how to proceed with redevelopment projects, and guide them in reaching their primary goal of re-knitting this neighborhood. The existing historic and cultural fabric of this neighborhood is threatened by this redevelopment change and physical demolition. Decision makers should analyze the NSI for existing potential assets and resources the CRBN provides. The City hopes the CRBN will attract private developers whom will construct new businesses, thus generating economic revenue .Yet; true success of the redevelopment of the CRBN is only achievable if the social aspects and existing historic fabric of CRBN are incorporated as well.