Developer to pay $16M for Concord Park if deal OK'd
A group chosen to redevelop the site of the former Ansonborough Homes housing project near the South Carolina Aquarium would pay the city $16 million for the land under an agreement awaiting Charleston City Council approval.
A mixed-use project of homes, offices, retail stores and at least one hotel is planned for the Concord Park site.
The development plan by East West Cumberland Park Associates was chosen by the city more than a year ago from several competing proposals, but the price and other details have been under negotiation since then.
The roughly 10-acre property is bounded by Calhoun, Concord, Laurens and Washington streets, and is the largest development property in the city south of Calhoun Street. The developers would buy 3.48 acres, divided into two sections, plus nearly an acre of right of way.
The city had asked a small, prescreened group of developers to come up with their best proposals for redeveloping the northern and southern ends of the site, leaving a city park in the middle.
In addition to paying $16 million, the agreement calls for East West to construct public restrooms, create 60 units of affordable housing and make 2,000 square feet of office space available for nonprofit use at 67.5 percent or less of market rates.
The affordable housing requirement has been the subject of some discussion on City Council because it means the city will receive a lower purchase price than it might have if the developer could sell all residential units at whatever price the market will bear.
The idea of developing the site at all also was controversial, with some arguing that the property should remain undeveloped green space and others insisting it should be used for affordable housing to replace what used to be there.
The 162-unit Ansonborough Homes low-income housing complex was demolished in 1992.
The homes had been damaged by flooding during Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and chemical contamination that has since been cleaned up was found on the site during preparations for the aquarium.
Of the 60 affordable units that East West would build under the agreement, 16 would be sold to people earning up to 150 percent of the area median income while the other 44 would be rented to people earning up to 60 percent of the area median income.
Essentially, the apartments should be affordable to those earning slightly more than half the average salary for the area while the for-sale units would be sold below market prices to people earning incomes that could be well above average.
East West also would be required to establish a $1.5 million trust fund to subsidize regime fees for the "affordable" apartments and condos and to hire an unspecified number of paid minority interns from area high schools and colleges to work on the project.
The development agreement would allow 163 market-rate residential units, up to two 50-room hotels, 16,600 square feet of retail space and about 25,000 square feet of office space.
The agreement leaves open the possibility of swapping the two 50-room hotels for a 100-room hotel, but the switch would require a rezoning.
East West's original proposal to the city called for one 50-room hotel at the corner of Calhoun and Concord streets.
City officials and representatives of the development group did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
The purchase agreement goes before City Council's Real Estate Committee at 4:30 p.m. Monday in City Hall, then before City Council on Tuesday evening.