By JIM PARKER
The Post and Courier
Jason Fabrizio figured he would be on the job awhile at Shelmore Village. But the way things are working out, he could be finished by the new year.
“We thought 18-24 months. Now it’s a 12 month time frame,” says the builder-developer, who is a partner in the project taken over last year by locally based Ecovest Development LLC.
Shelmore Village, launched in 2006 off South Shelmore Boulevard and Mathis Ferry Road in Mount Pleasant, sports 41 historic-Charleston-style dwellings touting commercial space on the ground floor and residential townhomes on the upper two stories.
The original developers were optimistic when the “live-work” places went on the market. But between frothy prices set in the days before the housing bubble burst and restrictions that made it hard to lease out the units, just 10 of the dual-use structures sold before lenders stepped in.
Since then, “Ecovest acquired 31 units from the bank,” says Jeffrey Roberts, managing member.
The new owners have been refurbishing the unsold buildings — 13 were finished and 18 unfinished when they took over — and started marketing them in early January, Fabrizio says. The retail-residences are priced now at $275,000 to $489,000 after being offered for up to $725,000 when built.
“Twice as nice at half the price,” Roberts says.
The formula seems to be working.
“In approximately 60 days, 20 have been sold,” he says. Roberts expects the final 11 units to be snapped up in the next month-and-a-half.
“That has been the great focal point, live-work,” Fabrizio says. “This is an opportunity for businesses to get in at a fairly reasonable price.”
Along with the discount prices, the 1,900-2,400-square-foot units are set up with more flexibility for buyers than when they were originally for sale, Roberts says.
Notably, the townhomes and retail spaces have separate power “boxes.” Previously, there was one electrical source per unit, which made it difficult for instance for a leasing business owner to check on a power outage in the store when the breaker box was in the townhome.
The change in particular benefits buyers who want to reside in the townhome and lease out the ground space or work there and rent out the residential space.
Ecovest is compiling a list of businesses that are interested in leasing property and is also planning to help to match up tenants and landlords, Roberts says. Commercial property is likely to fill up with boutiques such as high-end children’s clothing stores, specialty shops and some “delicacy” and food-related outfits, he says.
Among the existing stores are Shoe-La-La children’s footwear shop, Cooper River Bridge Run headquarters, Crushed wine shop and Pilates of Charleston.
Roberts expects 70 percent of the owners will either reside in, run a business in or both live and work in the units while 30 percent will be investor held.
He credits the town of Mount Pleasant with working with Ecovest on rezoning and other issues to give the developer the ability to offer the units with more occupancy choices than before.
Flexibility and pricing attracted Stephen and Katie Sovenyhazy to Shelmore Village. Katie runs Pilates of Charleston and has been leasing the space. She is moving the fitness center to another building she and her husband just bought. At the same time, Stephen leases space in yet another building for his business Core Languages, which deals with corporate language training.
With the unit they purchased, “The pricing was great,” he says. They plan to lease out the townhome, which is the Victoria floor plan.
“It’s a gorgeous area, central to Mount Pleasant,” he says. “There’s a large amount of activity.”
The Shelmore Village townhomes, which are 1,200-1,600 square feet, are available with two to three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths. Highlights are hardwood floors, foot wide window sills, maple cabinets and stainless steel appliances in the kitchen and a small fenced-in lawn in the back. The commercial sections are 650 to 850 square feet.
Owners pay a $320 a month regime fee that helps maintain common areas.
According to Fabrizio, the townhomes are renting for around $1,300 a month and commercial space for about $1,600 a month.
A structural perk of the Shelmore Village properties is they’re built with extra sturdy eight-inch thick “tilt up”concrete and i-beam construction. Also, the units have sprinkler systems throughout, which could lower insurance costs.
Ecovest plans to work with the town on signage and is already sprucing up the center courtyard areas and green spaces, Roberts says. Next door to Shelmore Village is a shopping plaza with Bi-Lo as anchor tenant, and private O’Quinn School is across South Shelmore Boulevard. The neo-traditional I’On neighborhood is within walking distance.
Fabrizio notes that the developers live in Mount Pleasant and understand the region’s real estate market.
“We know east of the Cooper,” he says.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or email@example.com.