Shem Creek Revitalization- Mount Pleasant, SC

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Project at a Glance

  • Issue Area Economic development, Neighborhood improvement, Sustainability and conservation
  • Engagement Approaches Community conversations/dialogues, Community meetings (townhalls, forums, etc)
Project Description

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Shem Creek Revitalization


At the start of the millennium, Shem Creek–the iconic landmark and historic economic driver of the Town of Mount Pleasant–faced a bleak future. Properties along Shem Creek were dilapidated and unsightly, and pressure for redevelopment led to a growing fear that the public waterfront would soon become entirely privately owned.    

Project Summary and Engagement Strategies: 

Faced with numerous challenges, the Town of Mount Pleasant–informed by numerous public and stakeholder conversations–supported a series of improvement projects and the development of the Shem Creek Park Master Plan. The Plan sought to ensure equitable access to the waterfront, promote the local seafood industry, support local businesses, and enhance the overall health of the creek and its ecosystems–all while sustaining the creek’s primary use as a working waterfront.    

Creekside development required the community to meet strict environmental requirements, but the Town went beyond these requirements and actively partnered with local environmental nonprofits to host a community-wide Shem Dig event. The event brought together leaders from environmental education and advocacy groups, local seafood purveyors, and sustainable fishing instructors to share information, conduct demonstrations, and answer questions about how to protect the creek for generations to come.   


Phase 1 opened in 2011 and included a 2,300 ft. public boardwalk that offered and provided a free and ADA accessible route to the waterfront, thereby ensuring equity and inclusiveness through the community. Today, the waterfront is no longer enjoyed solely by those who can afford property there.  By connecting the people to the creek, a narrative emerged and a call to action ensued–that of preserving the health and beauty of the creek.    

Worried that an influx of new visitors might erase the historic and cultural impact of Shem Creek, town officials installed signage along the boardwalk telling the story of the creek’s history and the people it has served.    

Further expansion came in 2016, extending the public boardwalk to span the entire length of one side of the creek, and ensuring public use of the docks. Through a public-private partnership with two local families–the Simmons and the Finch families–the Town of Mount Pleasant secured continuous access to the waterfront forever.    

The Shem Creek Park Phase 2 project also coincided with other community efforts to preserve and promote the local seafood industry. The increase in daily visitors on Shem Creek brought about a heightened community awareness of the many threats facing the industry. Community groups and organizations such as Shem Creek Fisheries and the South Carolina Aquarium created campaigns (#JustAsk and “Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat Imported Shrimp”) to encourage patrons to support local seafood purveyors. And when the shrimping fleet lost the ability to sell their products on the docks, the Mount Pleasant Town Council unanimously approved a Saturday morning fish market at their farmers’ market facility. This weekly event provides a dedicated space for restaurateurs and individual citizens to purchase local seafood. This action ensured availability of healthy and local seafood throughout the community.   

Additional Resources:
Shem Creek Revitalization Website
Mount Pleasant, SC– 2018 AAC Winner: Presentation
Local Contacts:
Kevin Mitchell, Town Engineer
Town of Mount Pleasant
100 Ann Edwards Lane
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
(843) 884-8517
[email protected]
Hillary Repik, Stormwater Manager
Town of Mount Pleasant
100 Ann Edwards Lane
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
(843) 884-8517
[email protected]  


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