Nassau Street, bounded by Line Street to the north and Columbus Street to the south, lies also in the evening shadow of the new $250M Courier Square development as it grows ever skyward. These days, the streetscape in this area is not pretty, reminiscent of the East Side 10 years ago with dereliction, weeds, trash and missing buildings. All that is set to change in the next few months and here is some insight as to why.
Over the last 3 years, LS Development and our partner in this enterprise, Lumos Construction, have taken ownership of one side of the block, slowly buying properties in near dereliction as they have come on the market. These historic homes have very long rear gardens stretching half across the block allowing for the creation of considerable urban infill. A PUD, or Planned Urban Development, has been in the making for the last 2 years creating 23 "fee simple" properties plus a few unconnected properties in need of renovation, or at least, on paper that's the plan. Development will move ahead in three phases:
- Phase one: Will restore the now empty historic homes, repair others that are occupied but need "some love" as one may say, and create a new commercial office with a live-above apartment. Repairing 7 historic homes on both sides of Nassau St. that will revitalize the streetscape and go a long way to normalizing the neighborhood.
- Phase two: Will move to the interior of the lot, building new 2-3 bed homes in the neighborhood with off-street parking underneath. We will also complete the interior utilities and service road to access these units. Our agreement with the neighborhood and the City of Charleston, is to focus on 2 & 3 bedroom family homes bringing community back where it once was - as a tightly planned neighborhood with little through traffic. (Children can safely play in the street, remember those days?)
- Phase three: Completes the infill as a repeat of Phase 2 but on the remaining lots leading to Hanover Street
The history of the area goes back to early Charlestowne. Early farmland became a fortification in the siege of 1780 following Line St. east to west and ending on creek and marsh at what is now Hanover Street (watch out for flooding!) We found a 2lb British cannonball and a Hessian mercenary's cuff button on the site as evidence. It reverted to farmland for a while then became part of the planned urban community around Hampstead Park before burning down and becoming the Eason Iron Works, casting any number of utilities for the growing city and even making its own steam boilers and marine engines. Foundations for the smelting cupola can still be seen in the ground on site. Part of that work remains as the brick building on the corner of Nassua and Columbus. General decline followed throughout the 20th century with an influx of displaced residents from the Gaillard Auditorium developments in the 1960's and gradual gentrification of Ansonborough until we get to today.
As an investment, this has been both a long and expensive process for us to develop, certainly more of a learning curve than a typical single family home renovation or new build. We have had to learn to work with the City on a different level, with many more consultations, permits, and committees to work through. Not to mention a considerable holding and entitlement costs now near 20% of the total acquisition price and a house fire destroying one of the historic homes. The last hold-up is now waiting for a new water main on Hanover and Line St. so that we can supply domestic sprinkler systems with sufficient flow for the new homes internal to the parcel. That should arrive later this year but won't stop work on the Nassau St frontage.
This type and scale of development on Charleston's East Side is not for the faint of heart and required both luck and hard work to keep the project in play. The plus side is that undertaking a large development like this will help reduce build prices and keep our crews and sub-contractors busy for the next 2 years. With homes currently selling on Line St. and America St. in the $300-350/sq. ft. range, the investment should play out well as a healthy mixture of rentals and owner occupied homes.
- Owner: Luxury Simplified, Lumos Construction
- Architects: Julia F Martin Architect, The Synchronicity Group
- Scope: 7 historic renovations and 16 new (2/3) bedroom homes and 1 commercial office space in PUD, 2 additional adjoining homes bought later.
- Total budget circa $1.9M land acquisition and $7M build out for PUD.
NOTE: As a real estate development and construction company, we are sympathetic to the design vernacular in historic Charleston and are accomplished at bringing compatible, affordable housing to the downtown Charleston peninsula. Luxury Simplified Construction was recently awarded the "2016 Carolopolis Award – Compatible New Construction" by the Preservation Society of Charleston. See for yourself by taking a look at some of our recent projects...
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