Charleston City Council endorsed a $1.2 million offer to buy a pre-Civil War mansion on East Bay Street, but slowed down on another property deal involving the historic Trolley Barn.

Council members agreed Thursday to accept the bid to buy the Josiah Smith Tennent House at 729 East Bay St. made by local attorney Akim Anastopoulo. The city has been trying to sell the property for some time after acquiring it from foreclosure.

Anastopoulo was the only person to put a bid on the four-story, 1859-era property after the city ran two auctions to try to sell it.

The purchase price of $1.2 million is less than the $1.4 million price the city paid in 2008 but council members backed the offer saying the building was becoming too expensive to keep.

Anastopoulo, who drew fame as the syndicated TV show judge Extreme Akim, said earlier he plans to move in as many as 60 employees from his current office in North Charleston. The building has an estimated 10,000 square feet. It is considered significant because of its historical and architectural link to the wealth in that part of the city before the Civil War.

The city is also considering selling what's known as the Trolley Barn property at 628 Meeting Street to the American College of the Building Arts. The small liberal arts college offers programs that blend traditional academics with training in artisan building trades, such as masonry and architectural ironwork.

But council members on Thursday described the sales contract as too complicated. Under the agreement being discussed, the property would be transferred to the school for $10. It could then be subdivided with a section being transferred to an investor known as Parallel Capital for $1.75 million. The school would use about $1.5 million to improve the Trolley Barn building as a teaching environment. The investor could build offices, dormitory housing or business space on the section of the property it acquires.

Some council members, like Councilman Marvin Wagner, questioned the contract as having too many "moving parts."

Council agreed to give the idea a first reading review but several said the sale still needs more study on the ramifications.

The barn was built in 1897 to house the electric streetcars that once served the city. The city acquired the site from the S.C. Department of Transportation as part of the construction project for the Ravenel Bridge.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551