Iconic Upper King Street clothing store Super Bad awaits demolition
Long before Charleston's Upper King Street had valet parking, velvet-rope bars and a restaurant offering a $67 steak, there was Super Bad, The King Of Fashion.
Super Bad opened at the corner of King and Woolfe streets in 1987, when the Charleston peninsula was roughly divided into downtown and uptown, and Super Bad was decidedly uptown.
Now Super Bad and its "New York styles for men and boys" has moved away, leaving Upper King Street like so many of the old-line retailers have - the five-and-dime, the wig shop, the pawnshop, the store that sold gospel sheet music.
Super Bad didn't lose its lease or get chased away by rising rent. In this case, the building is in danger of falling down, and the city has ordered it demolished.
"I'm not closing down because King Street is changing," said Basim Hassouneh, owner of the business and the property. "I'm closing down because the people next door hit my building."
The question of fault is being litigated, but sometime during the summer, a work crew preparing the site next door to Super Bad for a new restaurant's patio struck the clothing retailer's building with heavy equipment. In court filings, Super Bad's lawyer claimed the building's foundation was damaged, while the construction company and subcontractors said the damage was superficial.
Tim Keane, director of the city's Department of Planning, Preservation and Sustainability, said that when the Super Bad building was inspected for damage, it was discovered that the building also had considerable damage from wood rot and termites.
"Our building officials went out there and condemned the building, and told everyone to get out of it," Keane said. "The owner was required to do the bracing so that the building won't fall."
Super Bad relocated to the Fabian Shopping Center on Rivers Avenue in North Charleston, leaving the downtown building shored up and the sidewalk in front closed to pedestrians.
"It's hard for me to leave that location after 26 years," Hassouneh said. "I've been downtown since it was a scary place. I've been there since I graduated college."
In December a structural engineer concluded that the King Street building can't be saved, and must be torn down.
"It's too bad," Keane said. "It's a corner building, and we don't like to lose corner buildings."
"It had been deteriorating for some time, and people didn't notice," he said.
Keane said the building's condition is unrelated to the extensive pile-driving that's been going on in the area, as hotel and apartment buildings are developed nearby.
Hassouneh said he plans to rebuild on the King Street site, a prime location in what is now a high-rent district.
"I'm not sure if it's going to be the same store," he said. "It's either going to be a clothing store with higher-end merchandise, or something else."
Hassouneh's family and business partners own clothing stores and other businesses in locations including Charleston, North Charleston and Savannah.
The one thing Hassouneh is sure he won't do is build a restaurant on King Street.
"I don't want more restaurants and bars," he said.
Reach David Slade at 937-5552.