By Harve Jacobs | May 12, 2020 at 3:31 PM EDT - Updated May 12 at 7:42 PM
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Charleston bar owner wants a stretch of King Street closed to vehicles permanently to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ken Schneider, who owns Uncork Charleston, wants the city to ban cars on King Street between Broad to Spring streets.
Under Schneider’s proposal, restaurants, retail stores and art galleries would be allowed to use all of the sidewalk space and one-third of the street to serve customers.
Schneider says another third of the street would be used by pedestrians. He says social distancing would apply.
“A lot of us aren’t getting discounts from our landlords, so we have to make up the difference,” Schneider said. “How do we save our businesses just like us? How do we protect the jobs, the people who we love who work for us?”
City of Charleston planner Jacob Lindsey says officials are looking into Schneider’s idea.
However, Lindsey doesn’t foresee permanently closing streets to cars because there are many challenges.
“Public safety is job number one for us always, and that means people are safe in terms of transmission of the coronavirus,” Lindsey said. “It also means safety in terms of being able to get police and fire at the scene if an emergency takes place.”
“I say what if there’s an emergency on Second Sunday, what do they do? I don’t really see the difference?” Schneider said.
Lindsey says another concern is making sure deliveries can be made to businesses and that trash is picked up. Schneider says for business owners, putting his idea into action may be the only way for them to survive.
“This town is dominated by tourism and if tourism doesn’t come back and people don’t come out, unfortunately I think the best case is thirty percent of all businesses down here close,” he said.
Schneider is hoping the city will at least consider a trial run of his proposal.
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