City officials this week will take up a request to demolish a former school building near the City Market, paving way for the redevelopment of the prime site by a California real estate firm.
Somera Capital Management paid First Baptist Church an eye-opening $15 million for the 1-acre property at 180-188 Church St. in late July.
The site has been used for years as a parking lot, and until recently it also housed the gym for First Baptist School, which is moving its athletic programs to James Island.
Somera hasn’t offered any specifics about its plans, but the city has said the area is zoned general business, meaning any future development could include several varieties of retail, including restaurants. The new owners also could build residential and office space. A hotel or two is likely, but lodgings are limited to 50 rooms each in that part of town.
One of the first orders of business, after the gym demolition, will be to remediate the soil. Somera signed a voluntary cleanup agreement this spring with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Somera, which is based in Santa Barbara, is familiar with Charleston. It once was part of a group that owned the former Best Western, now a Holiday Inn Express, at 250 Spring St. on the peninsula. More recently it was an investor in a Hampton Inn hotel in the Hilton Head Island area.
“We focus on acquiring fundamentally sound properties in strong locations within submarkets with favorable attributes,” Somera said on its website.
The Board of Architectural Review takes up the company’s demolition request at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The panel meets at 75 Calhoun St.
An 86-year-old Charleston law practice that represents workers who get hurt on the job is indulging in some market research.
In a nod to last week’s Labor Day holiday, Steinberg Law Firm has released the early results from an ongoing online survey of South Carolina employees. So far, Steinberg said it has randomly polled more than 150 full- and part-timers from the Lowcountry, Pee Dee, Midlands and Upstate. They work in a variety of industries.
The highlights of the survey:
Slightly more than half said they are exposed to illness or injury at work daily. Another 10 percent said they are at-risk at least monthly. One-third reported being “rarely” exposed to injury or illness while on the clock.
Sixty percent said nothing would prevent them from reporting a workplace injury, but 22 percent said the fear of missing work would cause them to keep their noses to the grindstone. The rest said concerns of being fired would drive them to keep their ailments to themselves.
Forty percent said they believed an injury or illness must be reported within 24 hours in order to receive workers compensation benefits. South Carolina typically allows two years, the firm said.
Almost a quarter have never been informed about workers comp policies at their jobs.
And almost 80 percent know where to find the first-aid kit, and 85 percent can locate a fire extinguisher.
An old cotton warehouse that’s now a hotel in downtown Charleston is now part of a locally based lodging firm.
Avocet Hospitality Group now owns The Anchorage Inn, a 19-room hotel on Vendue Range in Charleston’s historic district. It was previously owned by Southern Accommodation LLC. Terms were not disclosed.
The inn becomes the third Charleston hotel under Avocet Hospitality Group’s management. The company also owns and manages the Vendue Inn, a 66-room boutique hotel acquired in 2012 in Charleston’s French Quarter, and the 132-room Tides Folly Beach.
“We’re happy to welcome it to our growing family of brands,” said Jonathan Weitz, president of Avocet Hospitality Group.
Originally built in the mid-1840s, The Anchorage Inn’s building has served a number of commercial roles before opening as a bed and breakfast in May 1991. The hotel’s name comes from its location near Charleston Harbor as a safe haven for visitors to the Holy City.
In addition to its hotel portfolio, Avocet Hospitality Group also owns and operates St. Barth Exclusives, a luxury vacation rental company representing the owners of more than 190 properties in the French West Indies. The group also manages more than 175 premier vacation homes available for rent on Folly Beach through Avocet Properties.
Somera Capital Management recently bought this 1-acre parking lot and former school gym site off Market Street between Anson and Church streets.×
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