What's ahead for the Gadsden House?
This begins a series detailing the progress of our latest historic renovation project on the downtown Charleston peninsula. It’s a big project for us, indeed a very big one. Also one where we need to bring in partners with skills we simply do not have.
Drive north up East Bay Street and as you near Calhoun Street you will see a bakery on the left, Saffron Café and Bakery, nice place and great cakes. Directly to the south is the Gadsden House, a grand 1800’s brick-built Charleston home to rival any of those on the Battery. It’s been for sale for 10 years and is on the list of “properties to save” of both Historic Charleston and the Preservation Society. Listed on the Federal Register of historic American homes, it’s no longer occupied as a single family home, but still beloved in a city of loved homes and, to be truthful, a bit plain on the side that faces East Bay.
Behind the Gadsden House lies what has previously been an under-appreciated Charleston asset, the Gaillard Centre. In 2014 Charleston made a $142 million investment to upgrade the Gaillard Center to be the best performing arts center in the southeastern USA and provide new offices for the city. The rear of Gadsden House fronts Alexander St., a Sand Oak lined oasis, little travelled by traffic. Additionally to the rear you’ll find a surface car park and a multi-parking garage. The view of the Gadsden House from Alexander St. could simply be described as a “beauty wearing sack cloth.” It has a grand iron-gated entrance, a picturesque carriage house, a stalwart kitchen house, superb 15-foot two-story piazza and mature trees. So where is all this going?
An Unusual investment Opportunity
There is a true sense of stewardship when owning a property of historic significance. Although the previous owner had cared for this historic gem, they saw a clear benefit in selling the property, seeing it fully restored to its previous grandeur and allowing for the city of Charleston to gain a premiere historic event venue.
So this is an interesting Real Estate investment opportunity. A potential to invest a sizable sum but nowhere near the total required for a very handsome return if we plan carefully. To gain valuable clients, solidify our banking relationships and extend our reach with the city. Our goals for this property are twofold, both to complete a full historic restoration of the home to its 1800’s glory, and to make it available to the general public as event rental space. This is a natural fit for us to showcase our renovation and historic preservation expertise whilst building our own portfolio.
Only problem is we don’t know anything about weddings and event venues (apart from our own that is!). Now education can be expensive and I’d rather avoid the learning curve; enter King Street Commercial. Headed by Michael Shuler they are experts at event space rental having three already and being in negotiation with us to manage the same at our downtown Broad St offices. They will manage and cash flow our facility there in the evenings for selective high-class events when the offices themselves are not in use. Sometimes the most robust deals are not those undertaken alone rather those gathering the expertise of trusted partners.
The Renovation Begins
Our restoration team, headed by Tim Sites, has moved on-site now and the massive restoration project has begun. And so the strategy takes shape.
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