‘The sky’s the limit’ for former Sokol site

Morris Sokol Furniture closed last fall and recently was sold. An environmental cleanup plan outlines a potential mix of uses for the King Street property and adjoining parcels.

An environmental cleanup plan sheds more light on the proposed redevelopment of the former Morris Sokol Furniture store and adjoining properties in downtown Charleston.

The prime piece of real estate along Upper King Street could feature “office, retail, hotel, multifamily residential and parking structures,” according to a document submitted to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

“The easy presumption is that it will be a mix of uses,” Mike Shuler, one of the new owners, said Tuesday. “We are considering all options or a combination of options. Because of the size and scope of the site, the sky’s the limit.”

Joe Sokol sold the longtime home furnishings store at 510 King St. and six adjacent parcels on Reid and Woolfe streets earlier this month for $22.5 million to a group of local and out-of-state investors called Vanderking 510 LLC. The store closed last fall after 94 years.

Before the new owners can move forward, they must satisfy requirements by the state that the site is free of contaminants possibly leached into the soil from a nearby dry cleaner that is no longer in business. The affected site is a parking lot across the street from the existing building.

The state says elevated levels of chlorinated solvents were discovered in 2012 in groundwater on portions of a parking lot once owned by Morris Sokol at 90 Reid St. The lot was included in the recent property transaction.

DHEC had asked Sokol in 2013 to submit a detailed plan about installing exposure barriers over contaminated soil and restricting land use, but the agency said it never received one.

Vanderking 510 has submitted a 40-page agreement to handle the cleanup and its costs. It also must provide detailed information on samples, collection points, methods, quality-assurance procedures and corrective actions taken on the site.

The property at 90 Reid cannot be used for homes, day care, recreation, agriculture or groundwater, and exposure to soil must be prevented until remediation is completed, according to the agreement.

Shuler called the environmental aspect of the project “pretty routine” but said the new owners are unclear when they will be able to move forward with redevelopment of the site.

“We would like to get something moving as soon as we are ready, but we want to make sure we get the right project,” he said. “We still have a lot to do. We have a significant amount of master planning to get through.”

DHEC will receive public comments on the voluntary cleanup plan through March 23.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524