Bishop Gadsden planning expansion

An artist rendering of the new flats to open in 2015 at the Bishop Gadsden retirement community on James Island.

Construction of new apartments will start later this year at the Bishop Gadsden retirement community, the latest expansion of the James Island campus.

The community for people 65 and older is planning to add 45 new apartments, also dubbed "flats," by summer 2015, according to Bill Trawick, Bishop Gadsden executive director.

"We have a strong waiting list, and we felt like this was a perfect product," Trawick said, who added that response to the added units has already been "phenomenal."

The $32 million expansion project is expected to start this spring. Bishop Gadsden is seeking to help fund the project with a bond not to exceeded $67 million from the South Carolina Jobs-Economic Development Authority. The JEDA and Charleston County officials are scheduled to hold a public hearing on the issue Jan. 7.

Bishop Gadsden's new units are planned to be housed in three four-story buildings constructed on 12 acres of property acquired at the west side of the community's existing footprint, Trawick said.

The buildings, constructed around a lake, will house vehicle parking on the first floor. The apartments, housed on the three upper levels, will be as large as 2,200 square feet and contain details such as a fireplace, luxury kitchen, high ceilings and large balconies, he added.

Trawick declined to say how much each of the new units would cost residents.

Bishop Gadsden has historically been touted as one of the nation's premier senior living communities. In 2006, it charged residents an entrance fee ranging from $134,700 to $350,900 with a contract for long-term care services. Residents also then paid a monthly fee between $2,020 and $2,750 that, among other things, paid for dining, utilities, security, housekeeping, laundry and maintenance.

Bishop Gadsden is home to roughly 450 residents and employs 300 people on its 70-acre campus, according to its website.

In 1850, the Rev. Christopher E. Gadsden established a diocesan ministry for the aging. As a result, the Episcopal Church Home for the elderly was established, first downtown on Anson Street and later Bee Street. The home was named after Bishop Gadsden when it moved to James Island in 1987.

The senior living community has undergone a series of renovations and expansions in the past few decades. Community officials have said the additions have been in response to market demands.

That includes the expansion of the community's fitness and wellness center in 2003 and the $12 million project that added 40 new units in 2005.

The community also added a new chapel in 2006, a project that cost $2.3 million.