Charleston's flagship downtown visitor center will close Monday so that work can begin on its first major overhaul in its nearly 30 years on Meeting Street.
Explore Charleston, which runs four visitor centers around the region, hopes to reopen the site by April 2020. Until then, the Best Friend Train Museum at nearby 23 Ann St. will serve as the temporary location.
The bus shed next to the center will remain open and fully operational during the renovations.
With visitor center traffic dropping even as total visitor counts rise each year, tourism leaders are hoping the updates will bring more people through the center's doors.
The brick building where it's housed used to be a South Carolina railroad depot. Its long, narrow shape led to a very linear setup inside, said Doug Warner, director of media relations at Explore Charleston.
The new plans for the center would change that interior setup, making the space more open and welcoming, he said.
The modifications will divide the building into three sections: an exhibition area, an event space and a revamped retail area. An elevated walkway will also be added in front of new centrally located entrances.
Discussions about updating the center started back in 2015 when the city updated its tourism management plan. Explore Charleston started working out the details of the renovations with architect Glenn Keyes about a year ago.
In addition to the facility on Meeting Street, Explore Charleston also runs visitor centers in Mount Pleasant, North Charleston and on Kiawah Island.