Concord Park taking shape

Tenants began moving in to the office building at 25 Calhoun this month. The building is the first to be completed as part of Charleston’s plan to redevelop Concord Park, a 10-acre site near the S.C. Aquarium that once was home to the Ansonborough Field public housing project.

The first new building in Charleston's Concord Park redevelopment plan is finished and mostly occupied.

The four-story building's occupancy is a milestone in the redevelopment process, and it's also the first large multitenant office building to open on the peninsula in years.

The 25 Calhoun offices are the new home of the Young Clement Rivers law firm and Robert W. Baird & Co., a financial advisory and asset management firm. Durlach Associates, which developed the 63,000-square-foot building with Holder Properties, also has offices there.

"We are negotiating leases that would take us above 90 percent (occupancy), but they aren't signed yet," said Marc Durlach of Durlach Associates. "It's a very nice building in a great part of town."

The tenants began moving in this month, and completion of the building puts one of the five pieces of the Concord Park redevelopment in place. Next door, on the vacant land at Calhoun and Concord streets across from the S.C. Aquarium, plans for a 75-room luxury hotel with 47 condos, a restaurant and a spa have been moving through Charleston's architectural review process.

"We're looking forward to having some neighbors," Durlach said. "The whole idea of having more people in the area, we think that is good for everyone."

Ross Bowker is the partner for hospitality operations and development with East-West Partners South Carolina, the lead player in a group that five years ago paid the city $16 million for the 3.5 acres of the Concord Park site slated for development.

He said the hotel/condo design plans should be through the review process in January. "We would be looking at starting the forward sales of condominiums this spring and possible start of construction around the end of next year," Bowker said.

The condos are expected to fetch just under $800 a square foot. Bowker said market reaction will help shape a condo development planned for the south end of the property, which could follow in two years.

To the rear of 25 Calhoun and the planned hotel, the large open field at the center of the Concord Park site will become a new city park roughly the size of Marion Square.

Charles Knowlton Jr., senior vice president and branch manager at W. Baird, said his company decided to lease space on the south side of the office building because of the green-space view.

Knowlton said the parking under the building -- all the Concord Park buildings are elevated because they are in a flood zone -- was also a plus.

"We've just been so pleased," he said. "It's a beautiful building."

At the south end of the field behind the office building, the Concord Park property along Laurens Street has been marked for two residential developments, an affordable housing development and the additional condos mentioned by Bowker.

The affordable housing component hit a snag, however, when the Humanities Foundation was unsuccessful in winning tax credit financing for the project. The nonprofit group planned to build apartments for elderly residents with low to moderate incomes. "Our contract expired on that piece of property, and I'm not sure what will happen going forward," said Humanities Foundation Executive Director Tracy Doran. "We have not entered into further negotiations."

Bowker said East-West is waiting to see the state's latest rules on tax credit financing and then will decide how to proceed with the development of affordable housing.

"We're all disappointed that Tracy and Bob (Doran) didn't get the award," he said. "We'll see what's the best match for the coming year."