CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - After a year of planning and two years of construction, renovations to the Charleston City Market is nearly complete.
From top to bottom all four markets buildings have seen great improvements. The "Great Hall" now boasts skylights, ceiling fans and air conditioning.
Crews worked with about $5 million to make the market more tourist and local shopper friendly. A bulk of construction took place in the great hall to open the space, and improve flow.
Planners say they worked carefully to preserve the parts of the building that could be preserved such as this arch, which is said to be more than 200 years old.
"We looked at many markets throughout the country and almost every market has this iconic image and we wanted to make this building that," said Steve Varn, with the City Market Preservation Trust. "The great hall will become what people think of when they think of the city market."
Twenty vendors are located in the great hall with a total of 148 in the market altogether.
"The new space is such a great contrast to what we were in before," said owner of Charleston Christmas Collectibles, Frenchie Richards. "It was very dark and small, hard to heat and cool. It was good, but it was just limiting."
The renovation also includes a bluestone walkway dating back to the 1800's, an archway that was part of the original structure and the return of some of the vendors from 35 years ago.
"This has exceeded our expectations," said city market general manager Barry Newton. "This is a historic renovation. The vendors are so excited to get back into the building and getting ready for business. It's a uniquely Charleston experience."
The City Market Preservation Trust has worked with the city and market managers on the project who is now overseeing some of the final touches.
Aside from the renovations in the "Great Hall," changes to the open air buildings include ceiling fans, the repainting of bricks, new roofs and paint.
"We think it's going to be a Charleston landmark," City Market Preservation Trust Member Hank Holliday said. "It's 100 percent occupied. There's a long waiting list and were proud of it and optimistic for its chances of success."
The great hall now boasts a total of 20 vendors and for the first time two are restaurants.
"We're very excited. The city market has been here for centuries," said owner of Food For The Southern Soul, Jimmy Hagood. "Before the first visitor came to town this is the place locals came, and everybody shopped."
Renovations were done to all four sections of city market from Meeting Street to East Bay.
No taxpayer money was used to pay for the $5.5 million project. The project was paid for by market revenue. A city market ribbon cutting will take place Sunday and it will open to the public Monday at 9:30 a.m.