Union Pier Cruise Terminal


Design Concepts and Renderings Public Meeting – July 18, 2011

• News Release: Union Pier Passenger Terminal Design Shared With Community
• Link: Design Concept Plan Presentation
• Link: Image Gallery

Preliminary Concept Plan Unveiling - June 1, 2011

Union Pier Design Kickoff – May 10, 2011

Members of the design team, led by CH2MHill along with local partners, solicited public input on the design for the new terminal. Hundreds of community members, downtown residents and local business owners, participated in the meeting.

Union Pier Concept Plan Report to the Community - September 2, 2010

On Sept. 2 at 12:30 p.m., President and CEO Jim Newsome provided an update on the cruise industry to the community and announced the next steps for the Union Pier property.

March 26, 2010 Letter from Jim Newsome, Port Chairman and CEO

To Our Colleagues and Neighbors:

In February, following four months of working collaboratively with individuals and groups throughout the community, we presented a Concept Plan for the future of 63 acres at Union Pier Terminal. This Concept Plan, reflecting extensive community input, includes several distinct benefits:

  • Our Passenger Terminal would be relocated farther north at Union Pier, providing a secure, more attractive facility and mitigating the traffic challenges of the terminal’s current location.
  • We would relocate our cargo operations and eliminate freight train operations at Union Pier. That means we would relocate 180-200 cargo ship calls and all trains away from Union Pier and greatly reduce the industrial footprint on the Peninsula.
  • The waterside end of Market Street would be open to public access and use. The community would be able to enjoy Charleston’s historic waterfront, as the restored Market would be connected all the way to the harbor.
  • A natural shoreline would be reclaimed, eliminating much of the Union Pier decking and creating a natural shoreline twice the length of Waterfront Park.
  • There would be opportunities for new non-maritime uses within the Union Pier property. Those uses would be determined over time by the community and the marketplace.

In numerous community meetings, there has been understandable interest in our existing cruise business. As can often happen, there has been a fair amount of misinformation in these discussions, so I’d like to share with you some hard facts…

Context of Charleston’s Cruise Business

  • Charleston has welcomed cruise ships for more than 30 years.
  • The cruise industry annually represents a $37-million positive economic impact to the Charleston metro area.
  • We have contracted with two major cruise lines for a total of 67 cruises for 2010. (That’s 10 more cruises than we had in 2005.)
  • Cruise passengers account for less than 3% of the annual visitors to Charleston..
  • Cruise ships represent only about 3% of all the ships that annually call on Charleston.
  • The Union Pier Cruise Terminal will be a one-berth, one-ship terminal.
  • Cruise ships calling on Charleston will be of a size and scale consistent with those that have called here in the past….a size and scale that is appropriate for this community.

Cruises and the Environment

  • The cruise industry is extensively regulated by both national and international standards to protect the natural environment and the health and safety of the public.
  • Members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which includes the cruise lines embarking from Charleston, voluntarily exceed these regulations by significant margins.

The enclosed chart defines and identifies the international or federal environmental requirements for cruise ships and the higher standards adopted by the cruise lines embarking from Charleston.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to review this material. Additional information on the Concept Plan, as well as a number of "Frequently Asked Questions," can be found on our website, www.UnionPierPlan.com. An excellent resource on the cruise industry’s environmental practices is available at www.CruiseIndustryFacts.com.

We are grateful for the enthusiastic response to the Concept Plan, and we continue to welcome your comments and questions moving forward.


Jim Newsome

Concept Plan Presentation – February 9, 2010

The SCSPA, together with their planning team, hosted a community meeting on February 9 to present the Concept Plan for the Union Pier Cruise Terminal Master Plan. The following materials provide more information.

Cruise Industry Economic Study

Study Report

Letter from Jim Newsome: Tue, Feb 9 Community Meeting

Dear Colleagues and Neighbors:

As you know, the State Ports Authority (SPA) has been working with its professional planning team, the City of Charleston, and community members to create a master plan for our Union Pier property.

From the outset, through an open and collaborative process, our goals have been to…

  • Create a financially viable Union Pier Cruise Terminal plan that reflects the character and quality of historic Charleston
  • Comply with today’s enhanced cruise security requirements
  • Identify additional uses of the property for the enjoyment of Charlestonians and betterment of the economy
  • Mitigate impacts on existing infrastructure such as traffic
  • Provide more access to the waterfront.

Throughout a series of meetings with community members, people have told us that they share our goals.  They do want a more attractive cruise terminal, a plan to address traffic, a plan that is contextual, more public access to the waterfront, and additional uses for the Union Pier property.  We have benefited from numerous valuable suggestions.  I am confident that as our plan evolves, it will reflect much of the constructive input we’ve received from the public.

I’m writing to invite you to a Community Meeting to Discuss a Plan Concept at 12:30 pm on Tuesday, February 9th at the Passenger Terminal.  The meeting should conclude around 2 pm.

Our planning team – led by Cooper, Robertson & Partners – will present a plan concept at that meeting, and then we’ll have a series of breakout sessions during which community members can discuss the concept further with members of the team.

We welcome your input and very much hope you will join us on February 9th.  Meanwhile, you can always visit www.UnionPierPlan.com to learn more about the planning process.


Jim Newsome

Port Broadens Approach of Union Pier Cruise Terminal Master Plan Area

On January 19, the Port announced that it will broaden the approach of its Union Pier Cruise Terminal Master Plan to consider the use of additional portions of its Union Pier property along the Cooper River, a decision made as a direct response to community input. An email shared with the community provides additional details.

“Jim Newsome Email Regarding Union Pier Master Plan Broadened Approach”

Listening Session - Wednesday, October 28, 7 p.m.

As part of its planning process for the Union Pier Cruise Terminal and the surrounding property, the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) hosted a public listening session at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, October 28 at the Passenger Terminal at 136 Concord Street.  More than 100 neighbors and business leaders attended to share their input and suggestions, ask questions and learn more about the process and project.

Anyone interested can continue to submit input by emailing us.

Below are materials from the Listening Session:

Click to view more pictures.

Kickoff Event – October 8, 2009

On Thursday, October 8, the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) officially began its Union Pier Cruise Terminal planning effort with a public Kickoff Event at the Passenger Terminal. The project involves creating a plan for the Union Pier Cruise Terminal and the surrounding property. Below are materials from the Kickoff Event:

Media Coverage:

Handout PDF

Press Release

Click to view more pictures.


Broad map of area