Midtown project nearing construction phase
A big mixed-use real estate development in the city of Charleston’s Upper King Street area that were first laid out in 2007 under the name Midtown should finally move into the construction phase in 2012, a local company involved in the deal reiterated last week.
What’s more, in a “Happy New Year” email message, CC&T Real Estate Services distributed one of the most detailed aerial renderings yet of the site plan, which calls for a 238-room hotel, 20,000 square feet of retail space on King Street, and a similar amount of residential and office space above the stores.
The footprint of the recession-delayed Midtown project covers the southeast corner of King and Spring streets, running up the east side of King from Cannon to Spring, then half-way to Meeting Street along Spring.
The other half of the Meeting-Spring corridor is no longer part of Midtown. Charleston-based Greystar Real Estate Partners is finalizing plans to build a 200-unit apartment complex with ground-floor commercial space on that section of the block. That project is not featured in the rendering.
Although Boeing Co. received public incentives worth hundreds of millions of dollars to build an aircraft plant in North Charleston, it is not a “public body” for purposes of the S.C. Whistleblower Act, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Court Judge P. Michael Duffy rejected the novel legal theory and dismissed a former Boeing engineer’s lawsuit based on it last week.
The Charleston judge differentiated Boeing from a government-sponsored foundation that administers the expenditure of public money, saying the “massive amount of public money” Boeing obtained in the form of grants and tax breaks were in exchange for employment pledges.
“Boeing has provided, and continues to provide, jobs to an area within the state that would otherwise not have jobs,” Duffy wrote. “In exchange for this service, under a negotiated agreement ... Boeing has received and will continue to receive payments from the state. The court finds that this type of situation satisfies the quid pro quo condition, and as a result, Boeing is not a ‘public body’ under the Act.”
Boeing hired John Woods in 2009 to create repair templates for the 787 Dreamliner at its North Charleston plant but fired him in September 2010. Woods said he had repeatedly complained that he was being harassed for insisting on adherence to quality and safety standards at the aircraft plant.
Woods also lodged formal complaints with three federal agencies about working conditions at Boeing South Carolina, and in September, he sued, alleging Boeing had retaliated against him for voicing safety concerns.
Laura Waring, who represents Woods, declined to comment on Duffy’s decision or the likelihood of appeal.
A Boeing South Carolina spokeswoman said the company was “confident going in that there was no merit to that lawsuit, and it’s apparent from the decision that the court agreed.”
“Boeing has a world-class commitment to safety and quality and takes extraordinary steps, including employing rigorous internal procedures, to ensure that the aircraft we design and manufacture are of the highest quality and are safe for the flying public,” the company said in a statement. “Raising any concern at our site — especially in the areas of quality or safety — is encouraged and supported by our Boeing South Carolina Guiding Principles, which says that ‘we create a safe and healthy work environment; free of harassment and intimidation,’ and our BSC Site Charter, which says that ‘we make safety, quality, and continuous improvement the basis for everything we do.’”
Its a fair bet that the developer of and tenants in the newly built 25 Calhoun are relieved the project is completed.
The reason: the general contractor that built the downtown office structure has filed for bankruptcy.
Charlotte-based Cox Schepp Construction, which an office in Charleston, sought protection from creditors Thursday in North Carolina. An company executive said in a court filing the builder was hurt by reduced access to credit and bonding during the downturn, customer defaults, and the halt or foreclosure of some projects. The 37-employee firm plans to continue operations while reorganizing.
Locally, 25 Calhoun was Cox & Schepp’s most recent venture. Its website shows it also constructed The Shoppes at Centre Pointe and the nearby Aloft hotel in North Charleston; the new addition to the Courtyard by Marriott at Calhoun and Meeting streets on the peninsula; the former Jones Apparel warehouse in Hanahan; and the Strayer University outpost near Centre Pointe.