The Jasper rendering

The Jasper apartment building will replace the former Sergeant Jasper structure on Broad Street in Charleston. Rendering/Antunovich Associates

The long road to replace the former landmark Sergeant Jasper apartment building with a new concept is about to take a turn.

Developers plan to break ground Friday for a 12-story, 219-unit upscale multifamily housing and commercial complex called The Jasper on Broad Street.

Construction is expected to be completed in 2020 on the multimillion-dollar project near Colonial Lake. The Beach Co., the developer, declined to provide the investment amount.

Look for better Jasper plan (copy)

The high-profile Sergeant Jasper apartment building on Broad Street was demolished this year. File/Wade Spees/Staff

Architect Joe Antunovich of Antunovich Associates of Chicago designed the building with inspiration from Charleston fixtures such as the Peoples Building on the other end of Broad Street and the Francis Marion Hotel at King and Calhoun streets.

The large building — one of the largest the city's Board of Architectural Review ever reviewed — includes ground-floor retail spaces totaling 25,000 square feet, and a 75,000-square-foot office space along Barre Street.

The BAR signed off on the design for the new structure in early 2017, but it didn't come without a fight.

The Beach Co. worked for years toward a redevelopment plan for the site but met stiff public opposition along the way. 

Sergeant Jasper complex may be demolished by 2015 (copy)

The Beach Co. CEO John Darby (left), reviews conceptual plans for the site the Sergeant Jasper apartment building at a meeting in 2013. Five years later, the project is getting underway. File/Wade Spees/Staff

The initial proposal drew neighborhood criticism after the longtime Charleston-based real estate firm introduced plans in 2015 to raze the 159-foot-tall, 1950s-era apartments and replace the 14-story building with a low-rise development. After residents and preservationists fought the concept as too dense, the company then reverted to a high-rise, mixed-use building, which is allowed by the city’s zoning. The BAR rejected the concept.

The Beach Co. sued the board, saying it overstepped its bounds by rezoning the site to limit the project's size. The height and mass of the project was settled through a court fight and city agreement, but it did not result in a different design.

“Though the height, scale and mass of this development was initially determined through a court process, the BAR was able to do outstanding work thereafter by working with the applicant to ensure that the highest quality design and materials will be used in its construction,” said Jacob Lindsey, the city's planning director.

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Demolition was completed earlier this year on the former Sergeant Jasper building, named for a Revolutionary War soldier. 

Beach Co. CEO John Darby described the Broad Street site as one of the best on the Charleston peninsula.

"The surrounding neighborhood is one of the most desirable on the peninsula, and the city’s Board of Architectural Review has commended the high quality of architecture for this special waterfront project," Darby said in a statement. "The Jasper’s combination of location, views and amenities will set a new standard for luxury living in Charleston.”

The new building will include a staffed reception area, controlled access, onsite dining and shopping, meeting spaces and visitor parking. Featured amenities are a fitness center, rooftop pool and garden, club room with private lounge and demonstration kitchen, corporate wine cellar and direct-access parking by floor.

The Preservation Society of Charleston, which fought the developer's plans, declined to comment on the new structure.

Winslow Hastie, head of the Historic Charleston Foundation, said his group "opposed the height and scale of the project, but ultimately lost in court. We wish something more compatible with the surrounding Historic District were being constructed."

Because of limited parking, Friday's groundbreaking is limited to invited guests.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.