After a series of rebuttals over redevelopment plans for the Hughes Lumber site in downtown Charleston, developers picked up a key nod from the Board of Architectural Review this week.
The five-member board voted unanimously earlier this week to grant conceptual approval for plans to erect a seven-story parking garage bookended by apartments and retail shops on Mary and Reid streets.
The $30 million mixed-use plan still needs preliminary and final approval before moving forward.
The longtime Hughes Lumber, True Value Hardware and affiliated equipment rental businesses still operating at 82 Mary St. will be replaced by the towering block-long development just off of King Street.
Plans call for 33 apartments, ground-floor retail and a 590-space parking deck.
Redevelopment plans for the site have been held up because part of one building occupied by the building materials businesses was deemed historic.
Developers asked to move it offsite to the western part of the city, but BAR members shot down that idea and said the historic portion of the building needed to remain on site, though they said it could be moved on the property.
The building with historic parts will be moved 36 feet and will sit on the southwest corner of the project on Mary Street behind Bluestein’s Men’s Wear store on King Street. Though the final use hasn’t been decided, developer Pat Marr of CMB Property Co. of Charleston, which is overseeing redevelopment plans for the parcel, said the historic structure could be used for a leasing office. A courtyard will sit between the moved building and retail space.
Original plans called for apartments to overlook the vacant Morris Sokol site as well, but the developer axed them over concerns the project was too massive and out of scale for the location.
“The site is good for a parking structure because it allows us to put it in the center and screen it by apartments and retail along the streets,” said Jimmy Walker of Walker|Concepts Architecture, which designed the building.
The new design breaks the building into three pieces with apartments made out of one material design on either end and the parking deck offering another facade in the center.
“We think this is a huge improvement over what we were showing before,” Walker said.
Tim Condo with the Preservation Society called the project’s mass “awfully imposing” and favored a previous warehouse-looking design.
Chris Cody of the Historic Charleston Foundation said the cornices on the garage are “quite massive” and need to be reconsidered, but he is pleased with placement of the historic structure on the site.
City planning staff member Dennis Dowd said the design and scale of the project has improved tremendously over the original version and the city is pushing for the 80-foot height limits in that part of the peninsula.
He agreed the cornices are a bit thick on the garage and said the decorative grills need further study. He recommended conceptual approval with the city’s conditions being met.
“I think you have made great strides,” said BAR member Janette Alexander.
Board member William Applegate agreed.
“I think the changes you made are spectacular,’ he said.
In addition to the proposed redevelopment of the Hughes Lumber parcel in downtown Charleston, the Board of Architectural Review ruled on three other high-profile building projects this week slated for the peninsula.
1. 600 Meeting St. — Unanimous preliminary approval
Five years after initially being announced, dual-branded hotels Aloft and Element by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide will feature 178 rooms in a nine-story building at the base of the Ravenel Bridge. The mixed-use project will include a 240-space parking deck with three levels of offices and a restaurant above it. Retail spaces will sit along Huger St. and a top-side pool will sit on the edge of the hotels. It’s the product of Meeting & Huger Place LLC affiliated with Jupiter Holdings.
The board liked the plans and said the developer had made “good strides” since it was first introduced.
Final approval is needed.
2. 55 Romney St. — Unanimous conceptual approval
The former site of Roberts Supply Co., which closed in 2015 after 144 years in business — the last 47 at 55 Romney St. on the upper peninsula — could house four apartment buildings up to seven stories tall with 220 units and ground-floor retail space. It’s being developed by Middle Street Partners LLC of Charleston.
The BAR liked the concept for the mixed-use project, but asked for more detailed renderings for the next level of review.
“The model fits the city very well,” BAR member Jay White said.
Preliminary and final approval is needed.
3. 595 King St. — Unanimous conceptual denial
The vacant lot at the corner of King and Spring streets that once housed Uncle Sam’s Pawn Shop and abuts the former site of the Lincoln Theater could be the future site of a seven-story apartment building with about 80 units, underground parking and street-level retail space. It’s across from the U-Haul site, which the city wants to convert into a park one day. A four-story hotel was originally proposed for the parcel. The New York-based Spandrel Group is the developer.
Preservationists lambasted the building’s design.
“Nothing about the building is interesting,” said Chris Cody of the Historic Charleston Foundation.
“It should be more gracious for this corner,” said Tim Condo of the Preservation Society of Charleston.
The board and the city staff liked the underground parking aspect, but not much else.
City planning staff member Dennis Dowd called it “a missed opportunity. ... We feel Charleston deserves better.”
BAR member William Applegate said, “The general architectural direction needs to be different.”
It’s back to the drawing board for the developer who must submit a new concept for consideration.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.