Investment group snaps up law firm’s offices, parking lots in downtown Charleston

The law firm of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice will continue to occupy the offices at 5 Exchange St. (left), which was sold last week.

An investment group that owns the former Carolina’s restaurant has added to its real estate holdings in that area of Charleston’s historic district.

Mount Pleasant-based Origin Development Partners LLC said it has acquired two office and three parking lot properties near the Old Exchange Building and Waterfront Park in separate transactions that closed Friday, according to county property records.

The total sale price was not immediately available.

The seller was Exchange Street Properties LLC.

The purchases included a 30,000-square-foot building at 5 Exchange St. that houses the Charleston office of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice. Also sold was the North Carolina-based law firm’s newly renovated 2,900-square-foot conference center at 12 Exchange.

Attorneys with Womble Carlyle are affiliated with the seller.

The law firm will lease back both buildings, which are just off East Bay Street. The practice has occupied 5 Exchange since 1970, when a merger created Buist Moore Smythe & McGee, which became Womble Carlyle four years ago. Chuck Baker, managing partner for the Charleston office, said Origin Development “shares our commitment to the city, and we look forward to working with them for many years to come.”

The real estate sales included two surface parking lots on nearby Elliott Street and another on Prioleau Street. The new ownership group said it has immediate plans for those properties.

“The purchase of 5 and 12 Exchange Street provides the ability to further invest in Charleston’s bright future,” Tony Kassis, a principal in Origin Development, said in a statement. “The Exchange and Elliott street properties ... are well-located in the heart of the historic district. We are excited about the addition of those properties to our portfolio.”

The investment group paid $1 million in December for the old Carolina’s site, a 6,200-square-foot building at 10 Exchange that remains vacant. No plans have been announced for the former restaurant.

Zach Bearden, another principal in Origin Development, said the firm “seeks to acquire and develop best-in-class assets.”

“The Charleston office market remains tight and the fundamentals for investment in the central business district support our investments along Exchange Street,” Bearden said in a statement.

Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.