Carolina on King leaving downtown Charleston

Carolina on King will close at month’s end in downtown Charleston.

Carolina on King gave the University of South Carolina something to crow about in downtown Charleston when it opened three years ago within a stone’s throw of the College of Charleston.

At the end of the month, the Gamecock retail and recruiting outpost will disappear.

The building at 285 King St. is under contract to be sold this month, and USC’s $280,000, three-year lease expires at the end of May, according to current building owner Patterson Smith, a school alumnus who owns a commercial real estate business in Charleston.

The building suitors are not from Charleston but own other properties here, he said. He also declined to disclose the selling price.

Smith wouldn’t identify those interested in buying his building, but The Post and Courier has learned it is Jenel Management Corp. of New York.

Joseph Dushey, vice president of leasing and acquisitions for Jenel, confirmed the company wants to purchase the building but he declined to say what merchant will replace Carolina on King until the sales transaction closes.

“We plan to redevelop it,” he said.

Jenel’s other Charleston properties include Gap at 269 King and Bebe at 289 King, according to its website.

The buyer is seeking “a national-scale retailer” to locate on the site, taking over the entire 6,000-square-foot, three-story building between Anthropologie and Victoria’s Secret, Smith said.

Smith offered the building to USC, but he said the board was not in a position to consider it. He also offered a couple of other sites in downtown Charleston for the state’s flagship university to maintain a local presence, but he said the school was not ready to commit.

“It was unfortunate USC was not in the position to make a commitment in a timely fashion that would have allowed them to stay,” Smith said.

USC spokesman Wes Hickman confirmed the shop will close soon because of the real estate deal in the works.

“Carolina on King has been a great success, and we appreciate the support of the Charleston community and the thousands of tourists who have become acquainted with USC through our off-site welcome center,” Hickman said. “As always, we’ll continue to look for opportunities to engage our alumni and friends, introduce USC to South Carolina’s visitors and tell the story of the Carolina family and the impact we have in our state, our nation and our world.”

He said USC is assessing its options for another Lowcountry site, but the school has no specific plans at this time.

Smith wasn’t looking for a buyer, but he was approached by the investors to sell the building.

He said the school kept tabs on foot traffic in the store and was pleased with its performance.

“They opened that space as an experiment to see if having a location in Charleston would help promote the university in a positive way,” Smith said. “It was a successful experiment.”

Smith thought about renovating the 1857 building he bought in 1979 and turning the upstairs into a USC alumni club, but the buyers’ offer came along.

“It’s a great building,” Smith said. “I have a little bit of (seller’s) regret, but time moves on.”

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.