Grapevine: BJ’s Wholesale Club starting work on first South Carolina store

BJ’s Wholesale Club will open a new store in Summerville next year, its first in South Carolina.

A smaller rival to Costco and Sam’s Club has signed up for long-term membership in Summerville.

BJ’s Wholesale Club recently inked a 20-year lease for an 87,000-square-foot store it plans to open in Summerville as the chain makes it South Carolina debut, according to Berkeley County property records filed this month.

The developer is GBT Realty Corp., which purchased the 10.5-acre store site at the end of Jockey Court through an affiliate for $1.85 million on July 7. Construction is getting underway, and the store is to open on an unspecified date next year.

The members-only warehouse club will include a gas station near Interstate 26 and U.S. Highway 17. GBT said about 67,000 vehicles pass the site daily.

Jeff Pape, managing director of the Brentwood, Tenn.-based developer’s shopping center division, called it “the ideal location to put BJ’s ... on the South Carolina map.”

“The exceptional visibility from I-26 is sure to draw residents as well as the workforce of this area brimming with activity just outside Charleston,” he said.

Westborough, Mass.-based BJ’s operates more than 200 locations in 15 states. The closest store from Summerville is in Charlotte. The privately held chain charges shoppers an annual membership fee of $50 — $5 more than Sam’s and $5 less than Costco.

There’s yet another reason to read the fine print of a contract before signing it: Someone might see you au naturel and you won’t be able to do a thing about it.

A couple learned that the hard way when they took a cruise to the Bahamas from Charleston on the Carnival Ecstasy. According to a lawsuit, the couple was “lounging in their stateroom, each in a state of undress, when they realized they were being observed” while the pleasure ship was docked at Union Pier Terminal. Carnival employees were using a motorized ladder to perform maintenance on the outside of the vessel and, according to court documents, couldn’t stop staring at what they saw through the couple’s stateroom window.

The wife finally had to close the curtains “to prevent them from peering in,” the lawsuit alleged.

The couple said they were “traumatized, embarrassed and humiliated and were unable to enjoy the balance of their cruise,” a five-day trek to the Bahamas. They asked for unspecified actual and punitive damages.

Carnival countered by pointing out a clause on page 13 of the cruise line’s 17-page ticket contract. That clause mandates binding arbitration for any dispute other than personal injury, illness or death. Furthermore, the arbitration hearing must take place in Carnival’s hometown of Miami.

The lawsuit was dismissed the same day Carnival filed its court documents.

The awkward situation also could have been avoided if the couple had read through the cruise line’s travel guide. That document notes that complimentary bathrobes are available for the duration of each cruise upon request.

The New York Times revisited Charleston this month – sort of. The venerable newspaper of record published a travel feature on the Holy City, and to many local readers, its advice for a 36-hour weekend in the Holy City didn’t quite ring true.

Maybe it was the plug for Two Boroughs Larder, which is set to close later this week. Or the description of The Ordinary, which opened in 2012, as the city’s “most vibrant new restaurant.” Or the reference to Butcher & Bee’s chalkboard menu, which was left behind in the eatery’s recent move to a new spot on Morrison Drive.

Something about it felt dated, like the Times hadn’t been here in a couple years, mused Geoff Yost, a partner at Charleston design firm Annex, in a blog post.

Turns out, it hadn’t. The piece was mostly a recycled article from three years ago.

For its part, the Times says it was promoting a few old favorites from its archives of “36 Hours” getaway columns. Each article had a few tweaks, spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said, before it was included in the Travel section’s roundup of 10 popular destinations.

At the bottom of the article, Rhoades Ha pointed out, was a note to readers: “This article was originally published on Nov. 21, 2013 and updated on July 19, 2016.”

Redevelopment of the State Ports Authority’s offices overlooking Charleston Harbor took a step forward last week with Charleston City Council’s approval of a rezoning request by property buyer Lowe Enterprises.

L.A.-based Lowe, which owns Wild Dunes Resort on the Isle of Palms, has not said what it plans to do with the peninsula property at 176 and 186 Concord St. Fleet Landing restaurant is on part of the property and will continue to operate at least until its lease expires in 2024. The office site is in part of the city where a hotel with up to 225 rooms could be built, although the property footprint likely would not support that large of a project.

Lowe spokeswoman Hannah Nuccio said the company has met with and gathered feedback from city staff, historic and preservation groups, neighborhood associations and business leaders.

“In the coming months, Lowe Enterprises is committed to addressing feedback from these groups on topics like parking, traffic and the importance of the continuation of Waterfront Park for public access,” Nuccio said in a statement.

Currently, the property has a 50-25 height limit, which means any new building there must be between 25 and 50 feet tall. The proposed zoning would increase the height limit overall to 56 feet and would allow up to 25 percent of the building to reach as high as 70 feet. However, the developer would have to invest more on the street level — by creating retail space or other public spaces — to qualify for the additional height.

City Council is expected to give the rezoning final approval next month. Lowe reportedly has agreed to paid about $40 million for the 6.5-acre, waterfront SPA property. The SPA plans to lease its building back from the buyer for up to two years while it builds new offices at its Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant. The sale is expected to close this fall.

Even lower fuel prices didn’t help catapult Charleston International Airport higher on Cheapflights.com’s U.S. Airport Affordability Index this year.

In 2014, the gateway to the Lowcountry landed in the No. 1 spot with an average airfare of $191, according to Cheapflights.com. Last year, Charleston International slipped to No. 37 with an average airfare of $347. This year, the ranking is even worse. The North Charleston airport fell to No. 53, though it’s rate improved to $322, mainly because of lower fuel prices, the survey said.

“Now in its seventh year, the index tracks the average airfare Cheapflights.com users found during the month of June to a common list of popular domestic and international destinations and compares it to the previous year’s ranking,” according to the report.

The list can be quite volatile. Last year, Cincinnati’s airport rose 77 notches in one year to No. 1. This year, it fell to No. 21. Long Beach, Calif., topped the list this year. It was seventh last year. One of the comments from a previous year about the index is that it is “useless.”

“This chart mean nothing to those who know tickets,” one cheapflights reader said. “Averages mean zip. It all depends on where you are flying.”