The 14-story Sergeant Jasper apartment building overlooking Colonial Lake will be demolished as early as August or September.
In the meantime, hundreds of the building's residents - mostly a mix of students, professionals and some elderly - are being told they have move out, several as soon as mid-May.
"Wouldn't you be inconvenienced if you had stayed in a place for 35 or 40 years?" said one elderly male resident Tuesday about having to find a new home.
The Beach Co., which owns the 1950s-era building, began posting lease-termination notices late Monday on the doors of the Sergeant Jasper's 220 apartments.
The note said the company's redevelopment plans for the several blocks around the building are moving forward. It also pledged assistance for displaced residents in finding new places to live.
Some residents said Tuesday they already were aware that the Beach Co. was looking to redevelop the area. But they were a little taken aback by the speed at which the process is moving forward. Earlier indications were that the move wouldn't be called for until 2015.
"The reason we live here is we like living in downtown Charleston and we can afford it," said resident Owen Vogel, 25, who has a roommate and pays $585 a month to split a two-bedroom unit.
Vogel has lived in the building for more than a year.
"The vast majority of these people will not be living in downtown Charleston," he predicted.
The Beach Co. plans to tear down the building as part of a re-do of the entire site, bringing in a mix of housing and apartments that will cover much of where Broad Street, Barre Street and Lockwood Boulevard are anchored. There would be commercial and retail space as well.
The construction height would range between four and seven stories and include a parking garage, Beach Co. Vice President Kent Johnson said.
But first, the Sergeant Jasper has to go.
Monday's letter to the building's 300 or so residents said the move-out process will occur in stages over the next six months. The emptying will begin on the top floors and work its way down, level by level.
Based on the timetable, the upper-most floors would be cleared beginning the week of May 18, with the process continuing on a weekly basis throughout the summer. It will end on the bottom level during the week of Aug. 10.
In the meantime, Johnson said the Beach Co. would pursue the necessary demolition permits needed from the city.
The chosen demolition method, Johnson said, if for an elevator shaft to be transformed into a trash-disposal chute, with materials dropped down by workers as debris is removed floor by floor.
No explosives or building-implosion techniques would be needed, said Johnson, who added that all the building's appliances will be removed and donated to local charities.
Residents reached Tuesday spoke of the inconvenience of trying to find a new home as inexpensive as the Sergeant Jasper is, or as centrally located in the heart of downtown.
"It's very reasonable to stay here," said College of Charleston student Ryan Conklin, 21.
Several businesses also are being affected by the announcement, including a convenience store, medical offices and a brokerage.
"We were trying to ride it out as long as we could," said Jacquelyn Burley of Charleston Therapeutic Massage and Wellness, who knew a vacancy order would eventually come her way.
She added that because her business is based on curing, she may have to leave sooner rather than later. "We can't have any (construction) noise. We have to get out," she said.
Johnson said a series of meetings will be held starting in the next 30 days with neighborhood residents to show what the company's plans are for the site. Later they will approach the city to acquire the needed planning and zoning approvals.
Beach Co. officials have scheduled an informational meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Sergeant Jasper clubroom for those with additional questions.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.
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