Over much of the past three decades, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce has operated from three different locations in the Charleston area.
Soon, the nomadic business-promoting group could be on the move again — but it's not going too far and it plans to stay put for at least 15 years.
By the summer of 2020, the chamber will relocate to the ground floor and part of the second story of a proposed new three-level building at 4922 O'Hear Ave. in the Garco Park development near Park Circle in North Charleston.
Construction will begin this spring, and the chamber will lease 12,111 square feet of the 44,000-square-foot facility under a 15-year term with an option to renew.
Offices for the chamber's 35 staff members will be on the ground floor while a conference room that can be divided and used for different functions will be housed on part of the second level. Tenants for the rest of the building have not been announced.
The new structure will be situated near the former Garco Mill site and the new Ingevity office building, both of which are already under development. The three buildings will share a one-acre landscaped park.
The nonprofit agency said it chose the Park Circle location because it believes the site will offer a centralized place for its more than 1,600 members to connect and collaborate.
A chamber leader called the location "a great fit" for its members and staff.
"It also underscores our efforts to reduce commute times and traffic congestion," said board chairwoman Melonie Hammond-Trace. "Chamber staff will have the ability to walk to services needed during the work day, and it is close to the planned Lowcountry Rapid Transit line, providing an alternate mode of transportation."
The chamber moved to its current 15,000-square-foot facility at 4500 Leeds Ave. in 2010 after leaving the former Baker Hospital site off Azalea Drive where it had been housed since 2004. The old hospital, atop contaminated soil from former phosphate mining and a chemical plant, met the wrecking ball shortly after the chamber pulled out.
Before that, the chamber held offices on Mary Street for 14 years, starting in 1989. The chamber itself is much older than that, dating back to 1773 as the oldest municipal business membership group in continuous operation in the U.S., according to its website.
The Garco Park site gets its name from the long-dismantled General Asbestos and Rubber Co., commonly referred to as Garco.
Architectural firm LS3P Associates LTD will design the layout of the new chamber facility.
“This new location will greatly enhance the chamber’s ability to serve its membership through its centralized location in our region, ease of access from multiple major highways, available parking and surrounding amenities," LS3P's Marc Marchant said.
"The new office integrates best practices for the design of 21st century office work space and includes both flexible meeting space for the membership and a new boardroom to accommodate large meetings and other events,” he said.
Weaver Capital Partners is developing the new building. The price was not disclosed.
"We are extremely excited the Charleston Metro Chamber chose Garco Park over many other locations in the metro area," said Jay Weaver, president of the investment firm.
"It further solidifies our belief that North Charleston and, in particular, the Park Circle area is a great office location," he said. "It is a true live-work-play environment that we believe fits what many organizations and employees are seeking."
Commercial real estate firm Lee & Associates represented the chamber in its search for a new site.