$19M highrise condo could set new high in Lowcountry’s home sales market

  • Posted: Monday, January 13, 2014 10:00 p.m., Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 6:30 a.m.
The view from the top penthouse of Terri Henning's home where the the Food+ Wine With a View dinner was held. The 7,516-square-foot two-story penthouse for sale in the People´s Building has three bedrooms, three and a half baths, a 3,500-square feet of terrance and panoramic views of the city and Charleston Harbor. (Grace Beahm/postandcourier.com) Buy this photo

It occupies the top floor in one of Charleston’s tallest buildings.

And, if sold at its $19.5 million list price, the expansive two-story penthouse could mark another high: the largest amount ever for a condominium in the historic city.

The 7,516-square-foot, two-story residence in the Peoples Building has three bedrooms and 31/2 baths. It also has 3,500 square feet of terrace space, and panoramic views of the city, Charleston Harbor and the Ravenel Bridge.

The condo is currently owned by Terri Henning, who purchased the top unit at an auction in 2003. Henning, who owned the floor right below the top penthouse, offered $1.2 million for the upper-level space that was later combined to make the two-level residence.

Henning, a Charleston real estate investor, was one of several buyers to purchase one of the 16 vacant units during the 2003 auction held on building’s balcony.

Now, Henning’s two-level unit is poised to be the latest high-profile example in what experts have dubbed a rebounding of the region’s multimillion-dollar real estate market.

The Lowcountry market has been posting double-digit growth, including the high-end market, which is recovering from the tailspin witnessed during the recession and its aftermath.

The Charleston Trident Association of Realtors reported home sales were up 22 percent in 2013. The region’s high-end market was even stronger.

For 2013, a total of 291 multimillion-dollar homes exchanged hands in Charleston County. That’s up nearly 40 percent from the 209 properties sold in 2012, according to the association’s data.

The strongest segment in the million-dollar market were properties priced between $1 million and $2 million, which accounted for nearly 76 percent of all million-dollar transactions in 2013.

Those in the Lowcountry’s high-end market come from a variety of backgrounds, including retirees and those migrating from the Northeast, and there’s an uptick in foreign buyers, Realtors say.

“As Charleston has become a more attractive destination for people all over the world, the market for buyers of our high-end property has expanded considerably,” said association spokeswoman Meghan Byrnes Weinreich. “The largest improvement in the Charleston County high-end real estate market was in the 3 to 4 million (dollar) range, which increased nearly 200 percent year over year.”

The improving market is fueling optimism for John Dunnan of Handsome Properties Inc., who’s listing the $19.5 million Peoples Building penthouse.

“I feel very privileged and excited to have it, and I’m heading to Monte Carlo to present it during the international real estate conference,” Dunnan said. “I’ve had various positions in various arts organizations, including The Kennedy Center, and I’m exposed to a lot of capable buyers.”

Finding buyers for such as high-end listing will have Dunnan casting a wide net.

“We have a whole marketing plan that has a local, national and international component to it,” he said. The property boasts such details as a private entrance, 1,500-square-foot master suite, gourmet kitchen containing Sub-zero and Miele appliances, a Viking gas range, double ovens and countertops made of Calcutta gold marble. Other details include two guest suites, Turkish limestone floors, chandeliers and two Sub-Zero 132-bottle wine chillers.

Dunnan said he’s confident the Charleston market can accommodate such a listing.

“The economy is improving and the market is just arriving,” he said. “We took the appraised value for a listing in New York City and cut it half for comparable size with the same interior designer.”

Dunnan’s listing rivals high-priced properties commonplace in larger cities such as New York, Atlanta and Miami.

At its $19.5 million asking price, the condo eclipses all condos and million-dollar homes sold in the Lowcountry in 2013.

That includes the region’s largest residential sale for the year: 191 Ballybunion Drive on Kiawah Island, which netted $10.75 million. The 8,034-square-foot, ocean-view estate on the Atlantic side of the island has waterfront views, six bedrooms, seven bathrooms and two half baths.

Still, some experts say the Lowcountry’s high-end real estate market is gaining momentum already this year.

Charles Sullivan of Carriage Properties, a downtown Charleston real estate firm, said December and January were unusually busy for the high-end market.

“The market, in general when you get above the three-million, is good,” he said. “We’re already seeing three to four closings above $3 million in January and a couple before June.”

Sullivan said the high-end market has been “steady over the last two years.”

The buyers, he said, come from a variety of backgrounds, including those migrating from the New York City metropolitan area. “The migration has always been happening here in Charleston,” he said. “We have seen an increase and their market is more fluid and they can sell their (current) properties and that is very important.”

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 or twitter.com/tyrichardsonPC.

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