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Group opposes plan to demolish historic building for senior-living facility

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 6:33 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A North Carolina developer and assisted living facility operator is proposing a seven-story senior living facility on upper King Street.

Liberty Senior Living said it plans to build a facility that would span across 550,000 square feet and contain more than 200 rooms.

Plans show the lot sits between Line Street and Spring Street, but before construction on the facility can start, crews first need to demolish an existing building at 609 King Street.

The building in question dates back to either the 1920s or 1930s, and the city even has documents pertaining to the land that date back to the 1800s.

Its historical significance is in question; the Preservation Society of Charleston highlighted the building as one of the few Art Deco-style buildings in the city.

Erin Minnigan, the group’s director of historic preservation, wants to see a final decision on the building’s fate set for Wednesday evening deferred until more reviews are done to see if saving the building is possible.

“We did attend a site visit (on Tuesday) with some of the board members and city staff, and from our observation, we do think a rehabilitation of the building is possible and we would like to see some further documentation on that,” she said ahead of Wednesday’s Board of Architectural Review meeting.

Documents filed in support of the redevelopment show the building has multiple structural deficiencies that would need significant fixes to meet minimum standards. A previous analysis concluded the building itself “does not appear to possess individual historical significance,” although it could contribute to the area’s overall historic significance.

The building at 609 King Street is only part of the site which developers are hoping to turn into a whole community.

Developers plan to design the front of the main building along King Street to look like the historic Charleston Orphan House. They said it will include a private courtyard in the middle, however.

Charleston Planning Director Robert Summerfield said there are still some design elements that may need to be changed, but overall he thinks this will be a great project for the area.

“It creates a terminus for Columbus that’s not really there with the current one story building that is subject to the demo,” Summerfield said “So it will create quite an interesting visual termination for Columbus Street.”

Summerfield said construction on the senior living facility is likely at least one year out if it is approved.

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