Sean Mendes

Sean Mendes of Blues Burger Joint has been named a South Carolina Chef Ambassador

spa headquarters

A rendering shows the 225-room hotel planned on the Concord Street site of the State Ports Authority headquarters. File/Provided

The State Ports Authority's $38 million sale of its headquarters building overlooking Charleston Harbor will rank among the top prices ever fetched for an office building on Charleston's peninsula.

Nearly a year after announcing plans to sell its waterfront headquarters, the SPA is expected to close the deal Wednesday with Los Angeles-based hotel developer Lowe Enterprises.

The transaction received final approval last week from the state's Fiscal Accountability Authority, which disclosed the sale price that until now had been a closely held secret.

Lowe is buying the SPA's building at 176 Concord Street and an adjoining parcel where the Fleet Landing Restaurant now operates. Lowe plans to tear down the existing office structure and build a luxury resort on the property. Fleet Landing will continue to operate until its lease expires in 2024.

The SPA, meanwhile, is moving ahead with plans to build a new headquarters at its Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant. The authority has filed a permit application with the Army Corps of Engineers showing a four-story building with room for 424 parking spaces on a 19.4-acre parcel at the container terminal. the new offices will have more conference rooms and meeting spaces than the SPA's current location. The town of Mount Pleasant last month reviewed a conceptual plan for the new building.

Lowe, which also owns the Wild Dunes resort on Isle of Palms, is planning a 225-room hotel with indoor and outdoor dining options. a full-service spa, a rooftop bar and lounge, and a continuation of the city’s walking path along Charleston Harbor. Architect renderings submitted to the city also show a pool, fitness center, ballroom, meeting rooms and ground-floor retail space.

After the sale is finalized, the SPA plans to lease back the Concord Street property for up to two years while the new headquarters complex is built. Lowe plans to have the hotel ready for operation by 2020.

The SPA announced plans to sell its Concord Street site last January, drawing 12 potential bidders with a variety of plans to reuse the property. The SPA said Lowe “submitted the best financial offer for the property.”

On paper 


Roger Stone (left) was succeeded as CEO of KapStone by Matt Kaplan. Provided/File

The company that owns the landmark paper mill in North Charleston is starting 2017 with a big change in the executive suite.

KapStone Paper and Packaging CEO Roger W. Stone was scheduled to step down from that position effective Sunday. He will remain with the company as executive board chairman.

The new boss is Matt Kaplan, who has been president and chief operating officer since co-founding KapStone with Stone, who is his father-in-law, about 11 years ago. Kaplan, who owns a home on Kiawah Island, retains the title of president.

The Northbrook, Ill.-based company acquired the Cooper River paper mill and other South Carolina businesses from the former MeadWestvaco Corp., now WestRock, for $485 million in 2008. KapStone has since expanded through acquisitions to other areas of the country. It now has employs about 6,300 workers, including about 980 in North Charleston.

N. Charleston paper mill owner has record 1Q financial results

KapStone’s North Charleston mill was the company's first major acquisition. File/Leroy Burnell/Staff

Stone was in the corner office from the get-go. In a September statement announcing the executive changes, KapStone gave no reason for his decision to step down.

Stone, who is 80, took a leave of absence from the company for an undisclosed medical condition in August 2015. He returned to the chief executive role about two months later.

A serial dealmaker within the paper industry, Stone led an acquisition spree in the 1980s at Stone Container Corp., a company that his father and uncles founded. He merged that business with rival Jefferson Smurfit Corp. in 1988 to create Smurfit-Stone Container. Stone later formed Box USA and sold it to International Paper in 2004 before launching KapStone the following year.

Round two

The new owner of the Flats at Mixson is still firming up a contract to fix up the vacated apartments, but initial work is now underway on the North Charleston complex.

Charlotte-based Grubb Properties says prep work has begun on the Park Circle apartments, which were emptied last spring because water damage was causing structural issues. Grubb bought the property from Atlanta-based Jamestown Properties and promised to repair them.

Emily Ethridge, a spokeswoman for Grubb, said the company hopes to have full-scale construction in the first quarter of 2017, but it's still negotiating financing arrangements and deals with subcontractors. Greensboro, N.C.-based Samet Corp., which initially built the 268-unit development, is the lead contractor on the repair job.

The $5.3 million sale went through in October, five months after the city of North Charleston ordered the three-year-old apartments emptied. A timeline for the work's completion hasn't been set, Ethridge said.

Dewberry distinction

Departures, the lifestyle magazine for American Express cardholders, includes The Dewberry in Charleston in its “Best of 2016: The 15 Most Important New Luxury Hotels.”

The Dewberry opened this summer in the granite and marble former federal building on Meeting Street near Marion Square, mixing the 1960s architecture with the classic and the modern. It’s the vision of John Dewberry, who is based in Atlanta and also lives in a 1770 townhouse on Meeting Street that he renovated.

“Grand dame hotels like the Planters Inn, Wentworth Mansion, and the Francis Marion helped to define Charleston’s signature Southern hospitality,” the article notes. “In the last two years, a half dozen new hotels, including The Restoration, Grand Bohemian, The Spectator and The Vendue have redefined it for the 21st century. The new bar for boutique Southern luxury was set this August with the opening of the Dewberry.”

Lidl land

The low-price European grocery chain Lidl took a big step in its expansion into Charleston region.

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While many retailers prefer to lease, the German-owned company recently purchased its future store site in Goose Creek.

Lidl U.S. Operations LLC, which is based in Arlington, Va., paid $3 million for the 6.11 acre property at 435 St. James Ave., Berkeley County property records show.

The company, Aldi's chief competitor across the pond, announced plans over the summer that the Charleston region was part of its early expansion into the food-obsessed U.S. market. It plans to open a 36,170-square-foot supermarket near Crowfield Plantation by 2018. The chain has said it was looking at other sites in the area.

Privately held Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG - the shortened brand name rhymes with needle - is a big player abroad. It has about 10,000 stores in 27 countries across Europe. Parent company Schwarz Gruppe is the fourth-largest retailer in the world, according to the National Retail Federation.

Lidl's closest industry rival was first to crack the Charleston market. Aldi already operates a store on Dorchester Road in Summerville and plans to open another in a former Mount Pleasant bowling alley on Johnnie Dodds Boulevard in 2017. 

Chef ambassador

Sean Mendes of Blues Burger Joint is one of four chefs who will be representing the state’s culinary charms this year as a South Carolina Chef Ambassador. Gov. Nikki Haley started the program in 2014 to promote the state as a food destination. This year’s ambassadors were announced in December.

Mendes started out in 2012 running a food truck called Roadside Seafood and opened a restaurant by that name on Folly Road in 2014. He opened Blues Burger Joint on Folly Road last year.

The chef ambassadors are chosen not only for how their food tastes but for their use of locally grown ingredients, according to the program. They appear at events such as the Charleston Wine + Food Festival and the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. Last year’s chef ambassadors, which included Forrest Parker of the Drawing Room at The Vendue in Charleston, prepared lunch and dinner at the James Beard House in New York.

Here comes the sun

The Hubner USA manufacturing site in Mount Pleasant is going solar. At least that's the plan, pending approval from town officials.

Hubner wants to install rooftop solar panels at its 450 Wando Park Blvd. site - something Mount Pleasant's planning staff says "will most likely be the largest solar array in the town to date."

lThe plan was supposed to go before the town's Commercial Design Review Board last week, but the board's meeting was cancelled. The solar initiative likely will show up on the board's agenda later this month.

Solar panel installations on commercial buildings in Mount Pleasant have to be approved by the board if the panels can be seen from public streets. The town's planning staff is recommending approval of Hubner's plan.

"Solar panels are becoming ubiquitous on commercial and residential properties such that they are hardly even noticed except for the change when first installed," the planning staff said in a note to the board. "Further, this installation is in an industrial park area and not a principal retail area."

Hubner USA supplies products to the bus, rail and air transportation industries. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Germany-based Hubner GmbH & Co. KG. As a worldwide firm, Hubner employs about 2,000 workers in 12 different countries.