It’s high-profile, high-dollar real estate. It’s in the shadow of the Ravenel Bridge on the East Cooper side. It’s just a glance away from the daily throng of commuters, walkers, joggers and cyclists as they descend from the towering span into the Mount Pleasant Lowcountry.
It’s also an endangered species, as Michael Bennett points out. The Charleston native and developer is buying about 18 waterfront acres at the 45-acre site branded as Bridge-side.
“I think it’s one of the best pieces of land to develop anywhere. Period,” Bennett said.
It’s not all builder bluster. As Bennett points out, the site is one of the last large, privately owned undeveloped parcels on either side of Charleston Harbor south of the Ravenel Bridge.
“It’s really a significant opportunity,” he said.
It has been for years. But like most large-scale real estate projects, the last recession derailed the ambitious plans envisioned for Bridge-side.
Now the deal is getting back on track, like so many other deferred developments.
The land Bennett is buying is approved for several commercial uses, including hotel rooms, which happens to be his area of expertise.
He hasn’t submitted any formal plans with the town, but the assumption is that he’ll build one or two waterfront lodgings on the property.
“It’s a good assumption,” he said.
Bennett added that the Mount Pleasant project will probably take a back seat for a few months until he can square away the start of the long-delayed hotel he’s building across the harbor, next to Marion Square in downtown Charleston.
As for the offices and retail space approved for his tract, he hasn’t decided whether to handle it in-house or farm it out to others.
Meanwhile, plans are coming together for another big chunk of the site.
Birmingham, Ala.-based Daniel Corp. is finalizing a deal to build apartments at Bridgeside, near Patriots Point Boulevard and Harry Hallman Boulevard.
“We love Charleston and Mount Pleasant, and we’ve been looking for an opportunity there for some time,” said Pat Henry, chief development officer.
He said the firm expects “to break ground shortly” and release more details by then about its 320-unit first phase.
“We’re happy it’s finally happening,” Henry said.
It’s fair to say that Lubert-Adler is glad as well.
The Philadelphia investment firm has been carrying the real estate since 2005, when it was developer Bobby Ginn’s main financial backer.
Then the South Carolina native’s high-flying resort empire came crashing down, and the lender installed its own team to secure the local zoning approvals. It then began marketing the site to other developers.
Ginn gets credit for conceiving Bridgeside and for assembling the land, which fetched more than $17 million eight years ago, when it had an estimated development value of nearly $400 million. But he’s out of the high-profile deal.
Mike Bennett, for one, is glad to step in.
“I look at it as a chance to acquire one of the biggest and best pieces of land on one of the world’s great harbors,” he said.
Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.
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