Businesses set to re-spark old Cigar Factory with development

Businesses set to re-spark old Cigar Factory with development
Future commercial space
Future commercial space

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Businesses are the driving force behind re-sparking the old Cigar Factory in downtown Charleston.

Plans for condos have been scrapped in place of office and retail space.

The historic building sits on East Bay Street about a block from the foot of the Arthur Ravenel Bridge.

Its storied past is a draw for businesses.

"I think it's such a beautiful old historic building," said Steve Palmer, managing partner of Indigo Road Restaurant Group.

The late 19 century architecture of the Cigar Factory is unique to Charleston, but the beauty has been overshadowed by busted windows and a worn out look.

"We've all been driving by it week after week wondering when they're going to finally do something to that building," said Palmer.

The Cigar Factory sat empty for eight years after the last tenant, Johnson and Wales University left Charleston.

New developers have taken over to renovate the building bringing in retail and office space. The Indigo Restaurant Group is set to be the first to move in.

"It's an all day market."

Steve Palmer is a managing partner of the group that already owns several restaurants downtown.

"Oak steakhouse, O-Ku, the Macintosh, Cocktail Club, Indaco and the Oak Table in Columbia," said Palmer.

Palmer says they'll offer something different to this side of the peninsula.

Palmer said, "It'll be a great cheese room, a charcuterie room, prepared foods to go."

He says the location is a perfect fit.

"The market needed parking and that building provides parking that you can really find downtown," said Palmer.

"We have over 500 parking spaces that will go with this building," said William Cogswell of Wecco Development.

Cogswell says the factory sits on 4.5 acres of land.

"This building is in size, the equivalent of about four blocks of King Street, both sides to the street," said Cogswell.

Developers are using federal and state historic tax credits to bring the building back to its original look.

"That includes maintaining and keeping all of these fire doors, keep these ceilings exposed, the brick exposed, the beams exposed. All the windows will be replaced with custom windows," said Cogswell.

The Indigo Road Restaurant Group expects to open its restaurant by November. The rest of the building will be ready by this time next year.

The factory is also the location where more than a thousand workers went on strike in 1945. That protest is thought to be the first time the hymn "We Shall Overcome" was used in the civil rights movement.?

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