Out with the old Hughes Lumber seeks to demolish buildings; may be making way for garage tied to future King St. store

A parking garage could be built on the site to lure a national retailer to the former Morris Sokol Furniture building on King Street, which abuts the Hughes Lumber property.

A longtime Charleston business is seeking permission to demolish all of its buildings, a move possibly connected to the redevelopment of the prime piece of real estate where Morris Sokol Furniture store operated for nearly a century before closing in the fall.

Hughes Lumber, a part of downtown Charleston since 1888, is asking the city’s Board of Architectural Review for approval to raze its structures, including stores, lumber sheds and warehouses, at 82 Mary St.

In July, city documents showed plans to build a 603-space parking deck on the site to lure a “national retailer” to the former furniture store at 510 King St., which closed after 94 years. The empty store sits in front of the Hughes Lumber warehouse off Mary Street. Hughes operates a True Value Hardware store and an equipment rental business on the site as well. The company also operates a rental business in Mount Pleasant.

John Burn, one of the owners of the property, said the family is interested in a long-term ground lease of the site after the business is demolished and is not directly involved in redevelopment talks for the site.

“The Realtor is working with the developer,” he said. “It’s still a moving target.”

He said the site could include street-level retail below apartments or condominiums to shield the garage.

The Burn family owns 2 acres near the International Longshoremen’s Association building on Morrison Drive that could serve as an alternate site if they choose to build elsewhere, Burn said.

“We bought it about 15 to 20 years ago anticipating this happening one day,” he said. “It’s kind of tough for us to operate the type of business we are in in that part of town.”

He was referring to Upper King Street, which has been transformed in recent years into a bustling business district of new hotels, restaurants and retailers.

Burn called the prospect of a long-term ground lease for the 1-acre site “a good opportunity for generations to come” within the family, but he remained cautious.

“This thing might not happen,” he said. “When the first check clears the bank, I will tell you it’s a done deal.”

Documents filed with the city say there is not enough remaining of the original structures at Hughes Lumber to warrant preserving it.

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Florida-based Structured Parking Solutions LLC is in talks to build the garage on the Hughes Lumber site, according to Burn and others associated with the deal.

An official with Structured Parking Solutions did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday.

Morris Sokol owner Joe Sokol on Wednesday declined to comment when asked if he now has a contract for his property.

The Board of Architectural Review meets Dec. 9 to consider Hughes Lumber’s demolition request.

Reach Warren L. Wise at (843) 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.