Charleston's downtown market taking on $5 mill renovation

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | twitter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - One of South Carolina's most popular visitor attractions is getting a facelift as Charleston's open market sees $5 million in renovations.

The city market has been a part of Charleston's history since the 1800's. For vendors that fill booths, like Corey Alston's family, the market has also woven into their family histories.

"It's a generationally passed down business from grandma, to my mom, and my sister-in-law and I run the business now," Alston said.

His family started selling sweetgrass baskets at the Charleston city market 25 years ago. They opened up shop after the last round of renovations took place.

Now Another major rehabilitation project is in the works.

"There's some good things about that. You'll have more people coming, people enjoying Charleston a little more," Alston said.

The city says it will start with cleaning and painting. "It will give them a facility that they need and deserve. For the last few years, they've operating under adverse circumstances," said Hank Holliday of the Charleston Market Preservation Trust.

Holliday said the site is the most valuable commercial real estate in the Southeast. The renovations will reflect that value.

The buildings will also be wired with video surveillance, and get new lights and fans.
Work on the open market buildings should take about four months, displacing the vendors. During that time, South Market Street will be closed to traffic and vendors will work on the street.

The work will be very detailed including scraping pieces of gum from the ground and filling mortar into bricks and repointing the edges of bricks that have become rounded over the years.

Visitors say parts of the market could use cleaning, but they like the worn out, old look. "The overall structure of it, I think, is beautiful. I love the natural brick and wood, just kind of how it's old looking," visitor from Kentucky Megan Blandford said.

"I don't want it to be made beautiful; it wouldn't be authentic," visitor from Connecticut Janet Long said.

Phase one of renovations will be updates to the open market buildings; those will start in January. Phase two will focus on changes to the enclosed market building and are slated to start later next year.

You can weigh in on the changes at a Board of Architectural Review meeting on the market rehab. That meeting is set for Monday at 4:30 at 188 Meeting St.

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