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Firearms retailer to relocate Charleston-area store after paying $6.4M for shuttered Bi-Lo

A Columbia-based firearms and fishing supply retailer plans to move its Mount Pleasant store to West Ashley after buying a shuttered Charleston supermarket site. 

An affiliate of JJE Capital Holdings, the private equity firm behind Palmetto State Armory, paid $6.4 million for the former Bi-Lo space at 1200 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. in October, according to Charleston County land records.

The affiliate, Rice, Beans and Potatoes LLC, also mortgaged the site with a bank loan of $8 million. The mortgage was signed by Julian Wilson, an owner and real estate manager with JJE Capital Holdings.

The company bought the 5.5-acre site for $100,000 less than the price paid in 2015 for the 48,420-square-foot former food store and an outparcel building. The previous owner was Hancock White Columns of Athens, Ga.

A Palmetto State Armory representative did not return calls or emails seeking comment on a projected timeframe for the move from 3365 S. Morgan's Point Road in northern Mount Pleasant, but store employees said the relocation is in the works.

Palmetto State Armory Mount Pleasant location

Palmetto State Armory plans to move its Mount Pleasant store (shown) to a new location in West Ashley at a future date. Warren L. Wise/Staff

An affiliate of Buck Management Inc. of West Ashley owns the 10.2-acre National Crossing Shopping Center in East Cooper where Palmetto State Armory currently operates in a former Food Lion grocery store.

Property owner Eddie Buck said representatives of the retailer told him they wanted to be out by the end of the year.

Buck said the firearms merchant's main objectives for leaving were to have an indoor shooting range and to own the building.

When the East Cooper store opened about six years ago, Mount Pleasant would not allow an indoor shooting range because of the proximity to the Charleston National community and a neighborhood pool.

The firearms merchant has not said it plans an indoor shooting range in the new location.

Buck said he does not have a new tenant lined up for the space the retailer will vacate.

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The former Bi-Lo site is zoned for general business use, but the buyers may run into a snag if a firing range is part of the plans. 

"Palmetto State Armory has applied for and received building permits for interior renovations at that location, though not for a gun range, as that use is not allowed under the site's current zoning," city spokesman Jack O'Toole said.

The former Bi-Lo site near Sam Rittenberg and Old Towne Road remains empty, but work is underway on the structure.

The interior has been gutted, and a roll-off trash container with construction debris is parked out front. Roofers were working on the building in early November.

A loan business that was operating beside the former supermarket posted a sign on the door that it moved to a new location on Savannah Highway Nov. 1, leaving the small shop vacant as well. 

The property also includes an outparcel building with an urgent care veterinarian and nail salon.

The Bi-Lo store closed in April after parent company Southeastern Grocers of Jacksonville decided to phase out the brand that got its start in the South Carolina Upstate in 1963.

The West Ashley supermarket was one of two Bi-Lo stores that remained in the Charleston area. The other was on James Island. It also closed in April and remains vacant. No plans have been announced for the space at 860 Folly Road.

Palmetto State Armory operates another Charleston-area store in Summerville.

The retailer's other shops are in Columbia, Greenville, Ridgeland, Savannah and near Lake Norman north of Charlotte.

A new store in Myrtle Beach is expected to open in the spring in the former home of The Sun News at 914 Frontage Road near the juncture of U.S. Highways 501 and 17 Bypass. 

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Reach Warren L. Wise at Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.

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