As in keeping with the current, frenzied market, condos sales in Charleston are no exception. According to the Charleston Trident Realtors Association March 2021 report, condo and townhome sales are up 137.5 percent since this time last year.
The Cassina Group’s Managing Broker and Broker-in-charge Owen Tyler said luxury condo sales are in demand.
“Luxury condo sales in the Charleston area have surged during 2020 & first quarter 2021. Buyer demand is high for properties offering unique amenities with the ability to close the door and leave,” Tyler said. “These luxe properties appeal to second home buyers and an emerging buyer segment that is downsizing a primary home without wanting to sacrificing top of the lines finishes and desiring to be part of a community just a few steps from their front door.”
The reasons for buying this type of home are obvious—no yard work, a sense of community, amenities, and for downtown living, the walkability factors are off-the-charts. Security is another reason—most upscale condos and condo buildings have extra security getting in and out of the building. In larger metro areas, doormen (or women) are commonplace for these tony digs.
“A ‘carefree’ housing lifestyle with all the bells and whistles and top-notch finishes is alive and well in the Charleston luxury condo market,” Tyler added.
The distinct advantage of having a home whereby you just walk out the door, without worry and the aforementioned benefits is appealing to first-time home buyers, empty nesters and retirees. If these properties happen to have views of the city, access to parks or the Charleston Harbor, even better.
Many second-home luxury buyers opt for this type of space. According to a recent Forbes magazine article, one of the top trends for 2021 are second-home markets, and condos are a big part of that market.
Demand remains high nationwide for them, and the president of Luxury Portfolio Investment, Mickey Alam Khan said: “Like bedroom communities, second-home markets will continue to see an influx of clients ready to buy even in off seasons.”
Larger cities were hit harder in the industry because of COVID, but downtown Charleston, being a far less crowded urban area, continues to thrive and realize significant sales. And those from larger cities are flocking to the Lowcountry. Downtown living offers parks and plenty of places to spread out—from The Battery to Colonial Lake Park to simply taking a stroll on historic streets, socially distancing isn’t a problem.
According to Charleston’s Regional MLS, the most expensive condo ever sold in the Charleston market was the penthouse at the People’s Building at 18 Broad Street, which sold for $12 million in March 2020. Listed by The Cassina Group’s Robertson Allen, the two-story luxury condo has views of downtown, the Charleston harbor and a 3,000 square foot rooftop terrace.
In February of this year, a condo at the Renaissance on the Charleston Harbor sold for $3.275 million. This condo community has 100 homes inside two buildings and is off Patriots Point. Ranging in size from 2,000 to 4,000 square feet, the amenities—gated parking, fitness center, pool, green spaces, and guest suites for visitors—ticks all the boxes for condo luxury living.
Downtown Charleston has a cornucopia of condo choices. From new to historic. From 650 square feet to over 5,000 square feet, the downtown Charleston’s condo market is just as varied in price, from the mid $300,000s to over $5 million.
I reached out to four industry experts. The prime properties they list are a collection of condos that capture the allure of lock and leave downtown luxury living.
“This (condo) is spectacular,” said Georgia Bell of William Means. “The interior is masterfully designed and there’s a little room under the stairs that is just charming. The buyer who will love this condo is one is sophisticated in style and taste, loves architectural integrity of this building, and one who likes the idea of being able to enjoy Charleston without the worry of home maintenance.”
Spectacular is an apt descriptor for the two-story, 1,280 square foot home. The history of the building dates back to 1923, when it was the Andrew Murray Vocational School. The school moved to a new location on Chisolm and in 2002, the building was renovated into 27 condo units. Its renovation received recognition, the Carolopolis Award from the Preservation Society of Charleston, given for outstanding achievement in preservation, restoration and rehabilitation in Charleston. Its South of Broad location is close to the Moultrie playground, Colonial Lake, and the Charleston Harbor.
Currently, there are five condos for sale at 3 Chisolm, ranging in price from $775,000 to $1.495 million. The Neo-Classical Revival facade of this building is beautiful, as are the homes within it.
Bell’s listing has one bedroom and two baths. The current owner, along with Charleston-based interior designer, Jenny Keenan, employed “artistic and tasteful creativity in using space to its greatest advantage,” Bell said.
“The mantel over the gas log fireplace was a beam in an old Pennsylvania barn and the tiles were made in Arizona, just for this condominium,” she said. “A mirror in the living area is actually part of a Murphy bed, and underneath the stairs is just enough room to add another bed and lighting. The owner put in a jade massage bed—it’s perfect for end of the day relaxation.”
The ensuite primary bed and bath area had a walk-in closet, and the owner added a second one, giving the home an abundance of storage. From the living spaces, large, black-framed windows overlook Horse Lot Park. “The upstairs has treetop and rooftop views,” Bell noted.
A lovely common space is the courtyard of the property. “It’s a beautiful inner sanctuary, and the courtyard is completely private to the outside. It was originally landscaped by Sheila Wertimer, and a raised small pool has a fountain.”
The battery and Colonial Lake are a block away. Pet lovers take strolls in Horselot Lot. Residents can walk three blocks to Burbage’s Grocery, a family-owned shop with gourmet foods and fine wines.
“You can walk to King Street’s restaurants and shops, it’s close to the Medical University and the marina,” Bell said. “You can walk or bike to all your favorite places.”
List price: $775,000.
Some buyers prefer a modern condo with rooftop pools, outdoor kitchens, fitness center and pet-washing station. Steps away from downtown newest, five-acre park, Gadsdenboro Park, the gorgeous green space is a hub of activity and a place to relax. Close by is the Gaillard Center, where the Charleston Symphony holds concerts and Market Square, where one can shop on Saturdays.
Cortney Bishop led the design of these homes which have open floorplans, “old world bones meets tailored, modern polish,” was the design goal, with a salute to the “New South.” East West Partners, one of the nation’s leading resort and urban development companies were the developers. DesignWorks, the designer of notable Lowcountry landmarks such as Cassique and the Ocean Course on Kiawah, and Seaside Farms in Mount Pleasant, is responsible for the common spaces.
“The Gadsden is located in the Ansonborough neighborhood, and the property is in the heart of the city,” said Heath Verner of The Cassina Group. “You’re within walking distance to most everything—world-class restaurants, shops, parks and everything Charleston offers.”
According to the Gadsden’s website, residents are within one mile of 168 restaurants, 28 galleries, 19 theatres and 17 museums.” Add concierge services to the luxury living and other over-the-top amenities, and it’s a great pick for a lock and leave lifestyle.
Verner’s listing is located on the building’s third floor. Curated finishes in this condo unit include quartz countertops, Bosch stainless steel appliances, built-in bookshelves, upscale light fixtures, hardwood floors and a contemporary color palette, Verner said.
These condos are in demand, 90 percent are sold. Verner’s listing along with four others range in price from $799,000 to $1.222 million. His listing is a two-bedroom, two bath, 1,272 square foot home.
“The Gadsden offers the best in amenities including downtown’s only rooftop space with a pool, outdoor kitchen, owner’s lounge, a firepit, and views of the city skyline, Ravenel Bridge and the Cooper River,” said Verner.
The home also has a balcony and nine-foot ceilings. List price: $799,000.
A pied-à-terre is what many condo buyers want when they invest in a second-home property or one that they eventually will make their primary home. A location on Charleston’s Rainbow Row is pretty hard to beat, especially if one wants to be in in the middle of all that picturesque pastel perfection.
Taking the No. 1 spot on Travel Zoo’s “10 most photogenic spots in Charleston, the No. 3 spot on Explore Charleston’s “9 of the most photographed spots in Charleston,” Rainbow Row is world-renowned. Living on this historic street in a peach-hued circa 1780 building could be a dream come true for the right buyer.
“This unique property consists of the entire top level of a four-story residence and has two bedrooms, two baths and 1,301 square feet,” said Mary Lou Wertz of Maison Real Estate. “In addition to the views of water from every direction, the interior highlights exposed brick, tall ceilings, two fireplaces and window seats in this light-filled home. The condo can be accessed by an elevator and stairs and has a designated parking space.”
Wertz revealed a bit of history about the building after looking through the Historic Charleston Foundation Archives.
“A Scottish merchant and planter built this, the largest of all the buildings in Rainbow Row, after acquiring the site in 1792,” she said. “A previous tenement belonging to the English merchant George Seaman was destroyed in the fire of 1778. James Gordon mentioned the property in his 1816 will as ‘my house and store on East Bay,’ and it was sold by his executor, Charles Edmondston, in 1818 to Thomas Higgam, who with his partner Charles Hubert owned 85 East Bay Street next door. The stucco brick house has its original fenestration and low hipped roof with corner quoining. Purchased by Miss Susan Pringle Frost in 1920, the second-floor balcony and other changes were made by her prior to her sale of the house in 1955. Unlike the rest of Rainbow Row, the house largely retains its aged stucco finish.”
For those unfamiliar with Susan Pringle, she was active in the women’s suffrage movement and was among the first advocates for Charleston historic preservation, helping found the “Society of Old Buildings,” which later became the Preservation Society of Charleston in the early 1920s. She was also a realtor who had a tremendous influence renovating property on East Bay, Tradd Street and Bedon’s Alley. It was her decision to paint the properties on East Bay to its pastel colors, making it one of the city’s most recognized landmarks.
This unit is one of three in the building. There are two additional on the property. An elevator opens directly onto the floor and the home has its own parking spot on the building’s lot. Wertz said the current owners renovated the home, updating the kitchen and baths with upscale finishes, refinishing the hardwoods, repainting the brick walls and adding a gas range. The primary bedroom has stairs that lead to an additional 220 square feet of outdoor living space.
Floor-to-ceiling windows let in light everywhere and custom moldings frame them.
“The porch has the views of Charleston’s amazing sunsets,” she explained. “There are only a handful of downtown properties with unobstructed views of Charleston Harbor, the historic rooftops and magnificent steeples. This is one of those rare properties.”
Bird's-eye views of the city from a 220 square foot rooftop deck. On one of Charleston’s most historic streets. Close to Hazel Parker Playground, Charleston Adgers Wharf and the iconic Pineapple Fountain and Waterfront Park.
“This home is within walking distance to some of Charleston’s most beloved secret treasures and steps away from Goat Sheep Cow, The George Gallery, great shopping on King such as Ibu Movement and around every corner nearby there is something wonderful to discover, such as Mrs. Whaley’s Garden, the most visited private garden in America,” Wertz said.
List price: $1.695 million.
Waterfront Park was built in 1990. Former Mayor Joe Riley had the vision for the eight-acre park in the mid-70s when he took office. It is one of the peninsula’s most visited parks and received a 2007 Landmark Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Designed to incorporate shaded walkways, riverfront views, long stretches of boardwalk with swings, seating and beautiful swaths of green spaces, and Charleston’s Pineapple Fountain, it is one of the jewels of the city. In Spring, flowers come to life, the water sparkles, and though Charlestonians do talk about their sunsets, they are part of the park’s personality. Awe-inspiring, one could say.
To have a home steps away from The Waterfront Park and sitting on a cobblestoned street is ideal. “The home is in the heart of the peninsula,” said Debbie Fisher of Handsome Properties. “This is one of the best locations and it’s within walking distance to Rainbow Row, King Street and Charleston’s French Quarter.”
Fisher said although it is located in a “dynamic” area, the setting is very serene and private. The 3,000 plus square foot condo with three bedrooms and 2-1/2 baths is on the second floor of the building, which has a ground (parking) floor, and three other levels. The home makes up the entire second floor, with a terrace that has views of the park and the Ashley River. Residents enter via the front of the building or through an elevator that is privately coded to the home. The elevator opens up directly into the condo.
“This unit is in one of the newly constructed buildings that make up Factor’s Walk,” explained Fisher. “One historic building comprised of three condos to the south is the other building, and this unit is one of four condos, built in 2004.”
Common spaces include a shared courtyard that is between the two buildings that make up Factor’s Walk, and there is a shared secure foyer off the garage.
Inside, the design is pure, elegant, timeless Charleston ambiance. Sophisticated, with custom features and finishes, Marie-Laure Kosian, (who has designed both residential and commercial spaces throughout the Lowcountry) incorporated beautiful wall coverings, unique lighting and abundant storage, into the home. Three sets of French doors open onto the terrace, and wide doorways connect the open floor plan. Generously sized bedrooms are light-filled.
“There are three marble fireplaces in the main living room, the study and the primary bedroom,” Fisher said. “The primary bath is finished with a marble floor, shower, wall surround and countertops. The finishes are exquisite and so are the views from all windows that overlook the rooftops of the historic peninsula, cobblestoned streets and the water,” Fisher said.
List price: $3.399 million.
Contact Brigitte Surette at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top wants for luxury condo buyers
3. Top appliances
5. Private outdoor spaces/common areas/amenities
6. Hi-tech security
7. Social activities
Source: Condo Capital