Despite bad economy, developer moves forward

By Hatzel Vela  bio | email

Despite the housing crisis compacted by the bad economy, a local developer is moving forward with plans to build a mix-use project north of Downtown North Charleston.

The 43-acre plot of land was once the site of the GARCO industrial plant, that some say was lifeline of the Park Circle community for almost a century.

Developer Beach Company demolished most of the buildings on site, but decided to leave two buildings. One of them is the former mill, which developers may turn into lofts or office space.

The left-over space will be used to build a grocery store, more office space and retail shops. Roads and public utilities will also be built as a way to connect the project to the East Montague retail corridor.

Before anything is built, environmentalists have to remove any asbestos or chemicals once used in this plant.

But with a steady rise in apartment vacancies, finding buyers may be a challenge.

Times are tough, said Apartment Guide Publisher Cathy Hontz.

"All of my apartment communities are telling me that right now they're having people lose jobs," Hontz said.

Hontz does agree the Park Circle development already has one thing on its side and that's location. She said the success of this development will also depend on whether those building it will be in it for the long haul.

The Beach Company Vice-President Kent Johnson says it'll be two years before they even put something on the market.

He says this is definitely a long term commitment.

"We believe in North Charleston. Everything that makes this place a great place to live is still here and with the two-year time frame to deliver product, we've very confident that things will be much stronger," Johnson said.