Shelmore Village, envisioned five years ago as a bustling mini-downtown between a Bi-Lo shopping center and Mathis Ferry Road in Mount Pleasant, was largely sidelined by the last recession.
But now the stalled development is stirring back to life after being acquired by a Charleston-based real estate firm.
Ecovest Development LLC recently purchased 31 of the 41 remaining units from Wells Fargo, for $3.8 million, according to Charleston County records.
Ecovest, touting its success reviving other properties, including the Ryland Square work-live project on Daniel Island, is retooling Shelmore Village’s business plan and cutting prices to entice buyers.
“What we see is the reason it didn’t work was for some reasons, one being it was mispriced,” said Jeffrey Roberts, managing partner at Ecovest. “We felt that the original pricing was substantially overpriced for the demographics.”
Merchants in the Shops at Shelmore Village welcomed the new owner’s plan.
Allen Sinkler and sister Lesley Sinkler Johnson purchased the Shoe La La children’s footwear store because of the proximity to the O’Quinn Schools of Porter-Gaud’s Mount Pleasant campus.
Allen Sinkler said business has been steady, but more retailers are needed.
“If we can get maybe three children’s stores here that will help everyone,” he said.
Tammy Riley, owner of Salon Bella Rose, has been renting her shop for more than three years. She now is planning to buy her unit and rent the residential space upstairs.
“I’ve been waiting for this,” Riley said. “We are ready to turn the corner. It will also be nice to have some cars in the parking lot.”
Shelmore Village was built in 2007 by North Carolina-based Meeting Street Homes & Communities as three-story live-work units. The concept, originally priced from $400,000 to nearly $800,000 per unit, mirrored other Meeting Street developments in the Charlotte area.
But the idea of proprietors living above the office or store was slow to catch on. The housing crisis left the project largely vacant and some construction incomplete. The bank took possession of the development in 2010.
Today, 10 units are occupied by residents and some retail merchants, including a wine shop, beauty salon and other boutiques.
Ecovest is hoping to give the development a shot in the arm by lowering the price for the units, which are as large as 2,585 square feet. Thirteen units are finished, and the remaining 18 are shells, Roberts said. Wells Fargo has agreed to a $1 million fund for future repairs, he added.
The new owner has changed the original concept by allowing owners to live on the upper levels and lease the ground-floor commercial spaces, or visa versa. The units are being listed between $275,000 to $395,000, roughly half the 2007 prices.
Roberts said his firm took a similar approach to Ryland Square after buying that property at a foreclosure sale in 2010.
“We went in and we took control of that and lowered expenses and repriced it,” he said.
Construction on the unfinished units at Shelmore Village will start soon, he added. Ecovest is aiming to sell out by the end of the year.
“If you make the prices attractive enough, people will get off the sidelines and do it,” Roberts said.
Reach Tyrone Richardson at 843-937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.
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