Addition by subtraction

Vacant shops at 85, 87, and 89 South Market Street Downtown Charleston.

Restaurateur wants to demolish 2 buildings, put up 1 on S. Market

A Charleston restaurateur is seeking to spruce up a mostly idle section of South Market Street.

Next week, the city's Board of Architectural Review will hear Edward 'Skipper' Condon's request to demolish two largely empty buildings and replace them with a new three-story structure.

'It's a great opportunity to clean that area up,' said Condon, who has a contract to buy the properties at 85-89 S. Market.

The buildings are on the block just east

of Meeting Street. The first is a two-story gray structure that once housed the Bermuda Bay Clothing store. The other, a single-story yellow building, was a Mexican restaurant.

Condon said his plans for the property have not been finalized. He said he wants to make sure his demolition request is approved before releasing any development details.

Preservation groups and city planning boards are traditionally protective of peninsula properties, especially those in or near the historic commercial districts on King and Market streets.

The buildings that Condon is seeking to raze and replace are at least 75 years old, according to city records.

Condon said he's not sure whether he will open another restaurant on the site. He is a partner in Condon Food Co., a group that owns Bocci's Italian Restaurant, A.W. Shuck's Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar, and Tommy Condon's Irish Pub and Seafood Restaurant. All are on or near South Market.

The BAR is scheduled to review the demolition request Wednesday.

Condon said members of the Historic Charleston Foundation and the Preservation Society have walked through the two buildings and have told him, initially at least, they had no major concerns with his plans.

Representatives of both groups said

they will research the history of the properties more thoroughly before next week's meeting takes place.

The buildings are next to the Franke building, a former brick warehouse built in 1909 at the corner of South Market and Church streets. The lower Market area is a heavily traveled tourism hub that's packed with bars, restaurants, lodgings, souvenir shops and carriage tour operators.

Local restaurateur and hotelier Hank Holliday

is the owner of a handful of properties on North Market Street, including the Planters Inn and the adjoining the Peninsula Grill.

He says he hopes that Condon's redevelopment plans can somehow address the tight parking and traffic backups in the area.

'We find that locals avoid the Market because of congestion,' Holliday said.

Reach Katy Stech at 937-5549 or