A year ago this month, Charleston boxing legend Al “Hollywood” Meggett was told the building that had housed his gym since 1973 was a "threat to human life and safety."
The two-story brick structure at 1099 King St. that first served as a fire station when built in the 1930s was in need of major renovations after years of structural damage and decay.
Meggett had to leave, and hasn’t been able to train youth boxers at the Charleston Boxing Club since.
“We had to go in and take all the pictures down and pack them up because they said we had to get out of there,” Meggett said in December, three months after he got the notice.
Today, early steps toward massive renovations have begun to rid the facility of water leaks, termite damage and cracked walls, among other issues that have plagued the building.
The city of Charleston has largely stuck to its fix schedule, stating in December that would begin in mid-2019. A design should be finalized by the first quarter of 2020, with construction starting later in the year, said Cameron Wolfsen, a spokesperson for the city.
Wolfsen said about $13,000 has already been spent on structural analysis and code assessment. Now the city is seeking bids for lead abatement and architectural design services for the new gym.
A selection committee is evaluating proposals and will get contract approvals from City Council once the committee settles on candidates.
The city said in December that bringing the facility up to code would cost around $400,000. Now, with more information, officials aren’t sure if that number is accurate.
“Not yet,” Wolfsen said when asked this week if they knew how much it would cost. “An estimate or probable construction costs will be required from the design team.”
Following the walk-through last year, a report prepared by a structural engineer said no one should be occupying the facility because of the termite damage, large cracks and various other code violations.
That forced Meggett to pack up memorabilia that once graced the walls of his gym, including reminders of famous boxers and leaders who have visited over the years. Boxing greats Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier, and former U.S. Sens. Fritz Hollings and Strom Thurmond, both of South Carolina, are just a few examples.
Meggett has still been active, including earlier this year when he held a boxing event at the Arthur W. Christopher Community Center on Fishburne Street.
But he still wants back in his gym, which gets support from all sides. The city has covered costs for water and power, and donors have provided boxing equipment.
That has allowed Meggett to focus on mentoring kids, something he’s done in Charleston since he moved from Harlem, N.Y., about 40 years ago.
“I have half of my life in that building,” Meggett, 89, said. “So I’m ready to get back in there and keep doing what I’ve been doing for the community.”
The final product will be different from before, Wolfsen said. The gym, which was housed on the second floor, is being moved to the first floor. Support space for the gym, such as offices and storage, will be upstairs.
Meggett said he's eagerly awaiting a call from city officials when the repairs are complete so he can go over design documents with them.