Old city hall getting new life

CreateSpace, owned by Amazon.com, will lease the former North Charleston City Hall on LaCross Road for $793,251 for the first year.

The five-story building that once served as the center of government in North Charleston for three decades could soon be the home of more than 200 employees for one of the biggest online firms in America.

CreateSpace, an on-demand publishing business owned by Seattle-based Amazon.com, announced Tuesday it has signed a lease for the entire 56,000-square-foot former North Charleston City Hall building on LaCross Road.

“We’ll be moving some of our current employees to the building in the coming months and also retaining the lease for our current building,” David Symonds, site leader for CreateSpace, said in a written statement. “As a Charleston business for over 12 years, we look forward to furthering our investment in the community.”

CreateSpace will pay $793,251 its first year, Mayor Keith Summey said Tuesday. The payment will increase 2.5 percent annually for five years. CreateSpace also has options to extend its lease in five-year increments.

Last month, North Charleston City Council unanimously approved severing the old lease and approving a new lease to a company identified only as “Project X” that would employ 200 people at first and up to 330 later on.

The building needs about $2.5 million in city-funded renovations to accommodate the new tenant, and Summey said there is still some work to be done. He also said CreateSpace has agreed to reimburse North Charleston for the improvements if it leaves within five years.

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“Leasing the former city hall for the expansion of CreateSpace is certainly terrific news for the city of North Charleston with the added benefits of jobs and an investment that will resound throughout the region,” Summey said. “We look forward to a long-lasting relationship with CreateSpace and remain committed to being a business-friendly community.”

CreateSpace’s local operations currently are housed on Investment Drive off Ashley Phosphate Road in North Charleston.

In 2009, North Charleston’s government moved to a new City Hall just across Mall Drive. The city then leased its former building to 2401 Mall Drive LLC in a 20-year agreement that paid the city about $324,000 a year. Summey said 2401 Mall Drive LLC found the new tenant, which wanted to lease the property directly from the city.