The Charleston School of Law has inked a sizable real estate deal that will allow it to consolidate its faculty offices and almost all of its classrooms within the former AT&T building on Meeting Street.
The school recently finalized a lease for the second and third floors, giving it about 54,000 square feet under one roof, according to its real estate representative, David Ingle of NAI Avant.
“This will be its new home for the next seven years,” Ingle said.
The law school previously rented a smaller amount of space in the mostly vacant office building at 385 Meeting St. for the past 11 years, he said.
“The space will give the Charleston School of Law a consolidated campus on the peninsula with parking for all students and faculty,” according to NAI Avant. “The transaction marks one of the largest, recently completed, single-tenant leases in downtown Charleston.”
Not all parts of the law school will be in the same building, according to Andy Abrams, dean of the law school.
The Sol Blatt Law Library will remain in a two-story building at 81 Mary St., just around the corner, while administrative offices, a classroom and student organizations will remain across the street from the main building at 390, 392 and 394 Meeting St., Abrams said.
“Everything is now within one block, with the bulk of activities at 385 Meeting St.,” he said.
Attorney Ed Bell, president and part owner of the law school, said the fact that the school needs the extra space is worth celebrating.
“A year ago, they didn’t need 25 percent of this space,” Bell said. “Now, with the way things are turning around, it couldn’t be better.”
He said some people thought the school would go under last year while others thought it would take four to six years to turn things around.
“Not only has it turned around, but it has turned around in one year,” Bell said. “I don’t think I have ever worked with a finer group of people. We haven’t had a single person rowing the wrong way. It’s an extraordinary thing that is happening.”
In a separate measure, the law school recently filed for approval from the American Bar Association for its planned transition to a nonprofit school. If successful, it means the school will have to give up two of its three owners, Abrams said.
Besides Bell, the other law school owners include Robert Carr and George Kosko.
Abrams and Bell said Carr and Kosko have previously expressed their desire to separate themselves from the law school.
Bell doesn’t expect a ruling on the school’s nonprofit status to come until early next year as the filing winds its way through state and federal agencies.
“We welcome the review and the critique as well as any suggestions,” he said. “This is new for us, but we welcome the oversight. It helps us get to where we are going.”
A local investment group acquired the former AT&T headquarters in downtown Charleston in late 2014 for $15.61 million, including a $3.6 million payment to the city for the land under the nearly 81,000-square-foot building.
That deal included 150 parking spaces in an adjacent garage. The owner of the 22-year-old office structure, 385 Meeting Street LLC, is affiliated with veteran businessman Eddie Buck’s Jupiter Holdings, an investment firm that owns an assortment of commercial real estate holdings, including convenience stores, restaurants and self-storage units.
Reach John McDermott at 843-937-5572 or Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524.