Union Pier will be in the headlines during 2020 due to a court decision, a probable deal with Carnival Cruise Line, and plans to sell a part of the prime waterfront site.
The company, which homeports Carnival Sunshine at Union Pier, is close to signing an extension contract for at least another 20 years, according to Jim Newsome, President & CEO of State Ports Authority, which owns and operates Port Charleston.
Carnival's deal wouldn't be dependent on the development of a new cruise terminal at the pier, that the authority has been trying to construct ever since Carnival moved to the port a decade ago. The building has been delayed by two lawsuits filed on behalf of environmental and preservation groups, saying the planned terminal would lead to increased pollution, congestion, and noise close to the Historic District of the city. The South Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments in one of the cases in June and is expected to rule in 2020. A separate federal lawsuit is pending.
Carnival Sunshine and other liners that dock at the current terminal brought a single-month record of 33,316 cruise tourists through Port Charleston in November 2019.
The ports authority plans to begin the process of selling to a private developer 63 acres of Union Pier. The property (with around 25 acres of it developable, and the rest made up of wetlands) is between where the new cruise terminal would be developed and where Lowe, an LA real estate company, is building a 225-room hotel adjacent to the Waterfront Park.