To launch a prototype office, Carolina One Real Estate would have been hard-pressed to find a more natural choice than its Mount Pleasant North territory.
The operation stands out volume wise. It ranks third largest by closed sales out of 400 real estate offices in greater Charleston, according to Multiple Listing Service figures.
At the same time, the region's dozens of agents and staff have spent years working out of a cramped 5,600 square foot office in a curiously removed locale on U.S. Highway 17's west side.
Carolina One's top brass realized that something needed to be done. Not so long ago, they took action.
The real estate company unveiled plans to build a 9,600 square foot building - more than 40 percent larger than the existing office - on the more traffic-friendly east side of the highway.
At two stories, the new Mount Pleasant North office would not only be roomier but house a few additional associates, notably from the company's mortgage department and support divisions such as insurance and title services. That way, home shoppers would be capable of visiting a Realtor and line up assistance through specialty units all at the same time.
Breaking ground in 2013, the landscaped Mount Pleasant North office opened March 1. It's next door to a sweetgrass basket shelter just north of U.S. Highway 17 and Hamlin Road.
"We are still settling in," says Meaghan Popper, broker-in-charge. But she's already pleased with the outcome.
"I think it's helpful for the (highway) visibility," Popper says. The center also allocates more space, whether in cubicles or offices, for agents and associates, she says. All told, 95 people work out of the well-appointed building.
Maybe the biggest change, however, is the operation's new mandate as a "full service" venture: Realtors team with specialists who set up mortgages, proffer homeowner's insurance and recommend closing attorneys. The arrangement, Popper says, provides "convenience for the clients."
To get everything just right, Carolina One consigned a team of professionals to design and build the office, which offers a modern flavor inside and Lowcountry style on the exterior.
Hill Construction framed the structure, Marketplace Interiors handled decorating, and Glick Boehm Architects oversaw the design. Southern First handled the financing.
Carolina One established the office in Mount Pleasant's "Sweetgrass Corridor," and the style complements the open-sided basket shop next door.
Along with configuring the property to preserve a Lowcountry appeal, Carolina One took steps to provide its employees and agents with an upscale workplace incorporating such perks as an open café with a bank of computers and plenty of tables for congregating. There are also conference rooms for training and sales meetings.
A side courtyard, meanwhile, surrounds an artistic "rain fence," where water flows down a gutter onto a single metal chain that descends to a rounded rock bed.
The Mount Pleasant North office counts as one of four Carolina One centers east of the Cooper, along with locations on Long Point Road and Coleman Boulevard and an office on the Isle of Palms.
Another highlight of the new center that's not immediately eye-catching but every bit as important revolves around the office's built-in technological advancements, says Vito Scarafile, who's involved in media relations with Carolina One.
Anyone from residential agents and commercial brokers to relocation experts can conduct intricate property searches, calling up rafts of information on computer, tablet, or flat screen TVs throughout the building.
"It's been very exciting for us," he says.
For more information, visit www.carolinaone.com.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sue Hensch (left) logs onto a terminal in the open cafe at the new Carolina One Mount Pleasant North building. Kendall Koste (center) and Deborah Jowers Ashman take a break at a back table (Jim Parker/Staff 3-21-2014).×
Cubicles at the Carolina One Mount Pleasant North office give agents and staff quite a bit of space (Jim Parker/Staff 3-21-2014).×
Steve Rowe, a Realtor with Carolina One, takes a call from his office in the new Mount Pleasant North building off Highway 17 at Hamlin Road (Jim Parker/Staff 3-21-2014).×
An artistic rain collector stands in the courtyard at the new Carolina One office. Water pours into the gutter, then slides down the chain into the rock bed (Jim Parker/Staff 3-21-2014).×
The new beige and green Carolina One Real Estate office off U.S. Highway 17 North in Mount Pleasant opened on March 1. To the extreme left is a corner of a sweetgrass basket building (Jim Parker/Staff 3-21-2014).×