By John G. Hutchinson
Brawley Tracy was not only my friend, but a true friend of Charleston. In the 1970s, the major problem facing the city was development of the Urban Renewal project, then referred to as the "super block." Many cities across the country faced the question of old town development or outside development, due primarily to the interstate highway system, with the tax base of the city hanging in the balance.
When I became mayor in 1971, the battle, unbeknownst to me, was joined. Urban renewal in Charleston was stagnant. New blood was needed if the city was to survive. I appointed Brawley to the Urban Renewal Authority, along with Olivia Singleton, Al Thalheimer and Gene Jordan. The transfusion was effective.
My commission to Brawley was that I considered him to be as smart and crafty as the opposition, and his goal was to help make sure that the downtown tax base survived. Brawley was tough, he could be abrasive, and he could be kind. What he was to me was an integral part of the effort to save downtown Charleston from the fate so many urban areas suffered.
The duplicity of key downtown retailers in that saga has never been fully explained. The Diamond and Stone & Thomas -- having prospered and some say "milked" the city for years -- signed on to become keystones of outside development. Even the Daily Mail editorial policy was for outside development. The Gazette, thanks to Ned Chilton, stood tall for the city.
The results are in. The players are known to those who are interested. Downtown Charleston exists and is vibrant. The people of this community need to thank the Brawley Tracys among us. Without them, things would be a lot different.
Thank you, Brawley. Your contribution was very important. I hope that those who follow are as successful for the city's interest.
Hutchinson was Charleston's mayor during the period when a midtown "super block" became the site of the Town Center mall, with the adjoining Marriott hotel. This development curbed the loss of Charleston business to outside malls along freeways, as occurred in many other cities. Hutchinson later served in Congress. He wrote this tribute after Brawley Tracy's death.