In one of the Lowcountry's largest commercial property transactions this year, a huge industrial complex in North Charleston sold this week for $42 million and will undergo a $15 million upgrade.
New York-based LRC Properties purchased the 1.06-million-square-foot Leeds Park site that houses the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and a several big businesses at the end of Leeds Avenue, according to commercial real estate firm NAI Charleston, which brokered the deal.
Other major tenants on the 72-acre, mixed-use site include auto industry suppliers Cummins, Mahle and American Axle & Manufacturing as well as Limestone College.
The industrial site dates back to the mid-1960s when an aviation-related company built helicopter engines used during the Vietnam War, according to Alan Bolduc of commercial real estate firm Avison Young, which handles leasing for the property.
LRC is proposing to invest in infrastructure and aesthetic improvements, including facade improvements on the chamber building, new amenities and a more appealing entrance.
Plans also include renovating almost 50,000 square feet of office space to top-notch standards and reworking another 150,000 square feet to create flexible space in the main building that houses the Charleston Metro Chamber, said Shep Benjamin of NAI Charleston.
"We plan to reposition the property and harness its potential by investing in both infrastructure and cosmetic improvements that will make it first class and highly desirable for companies looking for office, flex and manufacturing space," said Howard Lavitt, principal and co-founder of LRC Properties.
Possible new amenities include collaborative space, conference rooms, a business center, a gym and better food options. Overall plans for the interior and exterior are still being worked on, but construction is expected to begin next year on other improvements. The property, with 1,200 parking spaces, is 75 percent occupied.
"We plan to bring Leeds Park up to and even exceeding standards deserving of this important market and its tenants," Lavitt said.
The park sits off Interstate 526 near the Ashley River and includes a water treatment plant, air compressors, large electrical capacity and conditioned space.
LRC called the property geographically well-situated near Charleston International Airport, Boeing Co.'s 787 assembly campus and the Port of Charleston.
“As Charleston’s industrial sector continues to boom and expand into the submarkets north of Summerville, opportunities near I-526 and the airport are practically non-existent,” said Dexter Rumsey, broker and partner at NAI Charleston. “The reimagined Leeds Park will offer industrial/flex space right here, changing the game for manufacturers in the area.”
According to Charleston County records, the property last changed hands for almost $55 million in late 2007, just before the real estate market went into a tailspin.
A consortium led by New York-based Glastonbury Property Solutions and investors from Los Angeles bought the site 10 years ago as Leeds Park Associates LLC.
The site now includes an additional 100,000 square feet since it changed hands in 2007. Cummins also bought part of the site.
The buyer said it continues to seek other investment opportunities in Charleston and the Southeast.
LRC Properties owns about 7.5 million square feet of commercial space on the East Coast, managing close to $600 million in assets, mainly in the Southeast.