Court orders demolition of Church Creek Plaza

A former business at Church Creek Shopping Plaza has been destroyed by people continually breaking down the door and entering the building. On Thursday, a judge ordered that all properties that are part of the plaza be demolished.

The buildings at troubled Church Creek Plaza Shopping Center on Ashley River Road must be demolished within 90 days under a court-ordered agreement reached Thursday with Charleston County.

The order, which dismisses a county lawsuit against the property owner, Morton L. Scholnick, also requires that he manage the growth of weeds, remove solid waste and perform repairs to the parking lot.

The West Ashley strip mall on S.C. Highway 61 at Parsonage Road was once thriving but had fallen into disrepair and only one business, a restaurant, is still there.

Residents complained that the shopping center was an eyesore and gave a bad impression of the area.

“It’s been that way for five years,” said Jamie Grigson.

Broken glass, debris and graffiti marred the property. Homeless people were drawn to the unkempt buildings, she said.

“It’s not a pretty sight,” Grigson said.

She arrived for a Thursday morning court hearing on the future of Church Creek Plaza that was canceled at the last minute. The county on Thursday afternoon released an eight-page consent order under which it agrees to drop its legal action against the shopping center owner in exchange for the owner agreeing to clean up the property.

The defendants are listed in the agreement as Scholnick, Church Creek Plaza, a Michigan Co-Partnership, and Church Creek Plaza LLC.

Charleston County Councilwoman Colleen Condon, who represents the area, said the resolution took longer than she would have liked, about a year, in part because of Scholnick’s health problems.

Scholnick’s attorney, Richard Rosen, did not respond to phone and email requests for comment Thursday.

People who live in the area complained that shattered glass from broken windows littered the ground, trash was strewn about and chest-high weeds rose around the parking lot of crumbling asphalt.

Condon said the county’s primary concern was the unsafe structures on the property that attracted homeless people.

Until the buildings are demolished, Scholnick is required to make a reasonable effort to secure them against entry, including repairing or replacing broken doors and windows and removing gang graffiti.

Within two weeks, Scholnick is required to manage the growth of weeds and rank vegetation and remove solid waste from the property. Within 90 days, he must repair drainage structures and unsecured manholes.

Condon said that it is the county’s understanding Scholnick plans to offer the property for sale. A pharmacy chain interested in the location tried to contact Scholnick, she said.

Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711.