The Journal Says Charleston is Luring the Young and the Restless

When I popped open my favorite section of the Wall Street Journal this morning – The Mansion section (of course!), this headline caught my eye – “Charleston Lures the Young and the Restless.” My first thought was that the story was going to be about Millennials moving here, but I was dead wrong.

WSJ Charleston Luring Young Restless

It’s all about the GenXers and young Boomers coming to Charleston – not to retire, but to live – vivaciously and delightedly. After all, isn’t 40 the new 20?  Yes, this article speaks the truth. I encounter scads of people in their 40s and 50s, tired of the noise and the rat race of larger cities (particularly New York), who decide to dump it all and head South. Life is easier here. Slower? Yes. But never ever boring.

I also noted the article covers two of my favorites homes in Downtown Charleston, worlds apart architecturally, but equally as magnificent.

The Villa Margherita

I wrote of this stunning manse back in October 2012, via a post called the “Sale of the Mysterious Villa Margherita…“. Every time I went for a walk around White Point Gardens, I would stop and gaze at its crumbling, neglected facade. To me there is always beauty in ruin, so occasionally I would take some photographs. You’ll find them in the September 2015 issue of Charleston Magazine, in the article Vive La Villa!  Today, I still stop and gaze. In awe. In wonder. In appreciation to the Hammonds for bringing this beauty back to life. And I am gaga over that blue door color.

Villa Margherita Kristin B Walker


The Sky Residence

This. This changed what I think Charleston can be. When I first heard of this project by well-known local architect Kevan Hoertdoerfer and GC Renew Urban, frankly, I couldn’t believe they had the you-know-whats to pull it off. Air rights?? Who ever heard of air rights in Charleston?? And contemporary architecture? I know someone must have turned over in their grave.  But this incredible team and the owner did it. And it is extraordinary. A couple months ago I hiked up to the top of a nearby parking garage, taking photos from every landing.

If you haven’t already noticed, we are in the midst of a new Charleston ya’ll. Not just a Charleston for Charlestonians. Nor a Charleston for just college students, tourists and retirees. A Charleston for everyone. And not just a Charleston of history and the past, but one with an innovative, energetic, and refreshingly eccentric approach to living life in this beautiful Lowcountry we all call home.

(If you don’t have an online WSJ account so you can read the full article, here’s a handy dandy PDF – “Charleston Charms Home Buyers – WSJ”)

Posted in Charleston Lifestyle, Urban Life | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Incredible Income Producing and Short-Term Rental Opportunity in Downtown Charleston

I can’t tell you how many calls I receive asking the question, “Where can I buy a place where I can do short-term rentals” or “What can I buy that has the potential to cash flow?”  And always, for the most part, I have to disappoint. Positive cash flow is tough because of high insurance and taxes on historic buildings compared to purchase value. Short Term Rental is even tougher, because, the reality is, only ONE neighborhood in town (outside of the Accommodations district) currently allows them, and then only specifically zoned properties within that neighborhood.

So here’s an opportunity that has the potential to satisfy both those questions.

76 & 78 Spring Street in Elliotborough is being sold as a two-building package, one commercial, one residential, both zoned Limited Business and compliant with the City of Charleston zoning for short-term rentals. One already has income, the other has major potential, and there are 9 off-street parking spaces. This entire assemblage is being offered for $2,850,000. Click here for the listing and detail or read on below.

76 & 78 Spring

76 & 78 Spring


78 Spring

78 Spring is a new construction residential building designed by the same talented team who created HARLESTON row. As such, the construction quality is extraordinary with features such as a metal roof, fire suppression technology, Andersen Architectural Series impact-resistant windows and more. The interior finishes will resemble the aesthetics of projects the team has done in the past, with a higher end twist, including custom cabinets, stainless appliances and gorgeous granite counters in the kitchens, hardwood floors throughout, tiled bathrooms and contemporary lighting fixtures.

Within this building there are three residential units – one large 3BR/3BA, a large 2BR/2BA with extra den, and another 2BR/2BA. Two of them have private exterior porches overlooking Spring Street, and off-street parking is provided.  Similarly sized and located short-term rentals go for an average of $400 per night, so you can imagine the income possibilities.

Here’s a rendering of the property so you can see what it will look like when finished, and below is a site plan to get a better idea of the building in relation to 76 Spring and the parking.

76-78 Spring Color Rendering

76 & 78 Spring Color Rendering

76 & 78 Spring Site Plan

76 & 78 Spring Site Plan

76 Spring

76 Spring is a Carolopolis Awarded, historic, modernized Charleston Single, with up to four commercial units, double side piazzas and off-street parking. Tenants are already in place, and beginning January 2016, the building will have a gross annual income of $84,000.  It has beautiful historic details, high ceilings, and french doors leading to the piazzas.

Location, Location, Location

If you already read my blog, you should already be hip to the hippest, most happening neighborhood in town – Elliotborough. 76 & 78 Spring are located right in the heart of it, at the corner of Spring and Percy Streets, just a few blocks to Upper King Street and its shops, restaurants, new hotels and luxury apartments. Or you could go across the street to get one of Wild Flour Pastry’s famous Sunday sticky buns. Or walk around the corner to the fabulous Chez Nous and imbibe a french wine in a candlelit courtyard. Or head just down the way to try and withstand the heat of Xiao Bao Biscuit‘s Mapo Dou Fu.

Without a doubt, I am hungry as I write this but obviously you understand, whether you have commercial tenants, full-time residents, long-term renters or visitors from California, location and accessibility are of utmost importance. From an investment standpoint, know that as demand for Upper King Street property has increased, so have prices, yielding an overflow into the Spring/Cannon Corridor for local businesses and travelers alike. And a bonus – the City of Charleston Spring/Cannon two-way street conversion is scheduled to be complete in the next few months, including installation of new granite curbs, lighting, hardscaping and landscaping – continuing the trend of beautification and renovation along this Corridor.


You may recall a past post I wrote about where you could find a short term rental to purchase in Downtown Charleston.  Well it’s here.  Take a look at the map below and note that ONLY the blue properties are zoned to allow short term rentals if they meet the conditional requirements and have the permit.

76 & 78 Spring is the orange star.

76 & 78 Spring is the orange star.

So if you want to get in on the ground floor with a property that is not quite finished, buy an assemblage that is scarce with high demand, own two buildings with the potential for multiple income streams (and yes, a place for you to stay in Charleston too!) and have an asset in a location in the midst of a commercial, residential and restaurant resurgence – 76 & 78 Spring are hands down the best opportunity out there. You heard it here first. 🙂


Posted in Developments, For Sale | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The March of the Big Brown Brick

In reviewing the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) agenda on Wednesday, I noticed the proliferation of the Big Brown Brick in almost every proposal. In a City that is known for its colorful buildings and creative and varied architecture, it baffles my mind that somehow the Big Brown Brick is enjoying its own renaissance.  Keep in mind, all of these buildings are designed by very talented architects, but it seems they must be collaborating to create dark and demonic corridors of Big Brown Bricks, no matter where we go.

Let’s take a look at the new Hyatt Hotel for preliminary contrast. While certainly it’s big and got brick, it’s bright, light and white, reflecting the sunshine of our Carolina Blue Skies. Yes, I know part of that is because it’s their official ‘look’, but still, it’s not half bad.

New Hyatt at King and Spring

New Hyatt at King and Spring


Now onto the Big Brown Bricks which seem to be multiplying on Meeting Street, following their enthusiastic placement at the new Burris Package Store, Elan Midtown Apartments, the 400 Meeting Street Apartments, and the Holiday Inn.

Here we have 511 Meeting Street proposed.

511 Meeting Screenshot from BAR Presentation

511 Meeting Screenshot from BAR Presentation


And here we have Meeting Street and Lee Street proposed.

Meeting Street Apartments Screenshot from the BAR presentation

Meeting Street Apartments Screenshot from the BAR presentation


And then just blocks away, we have 601 Meeting Street proposed wrapping around another Big Brown Brick building.

601 Meeting

601 Meeting St screenshot from the BAR presentation


And then what do you know…across the street – more Big Brown Bricks in the form of a hotel. This one has already been approved.

The Hotel - View from Huger Street

The Hotel – View from Huger Street


Please keep in mind this little list does not include the immense Courier Square project, because while I know Big Brown Bricks are being used, I can’t remember whether or not they are going on the facade facing Meeting Street. Nor does this list include the proposed apartments on Woolfe Street, because frankly, I can’t remember what’s going on with them, though I am 100% sure it will be Big Brown Bricks. Nor does this list include the myriad other Big Brown Bricks proposed around town – on Calhoun by the Aquarium, in the middle of MUSC, on the other side of both bridges….

Now I realize that brown bricks have been a significant part of Charleston’s building blocks for much of its history. But for some reason, the old handmade bricks with their hand scored joints, creating elegant homes or useful buildings with fine architectural detail, just look nothing like what’s going on today. The application of a veneer of new, machine made, perfectly angled, Big Brown Bricks does not a historic look make.

And unfortunately the sameness of these Big Brown Brick Buildings is astonishing.

Posted in Developments, Urban Life | Tagged , | 6 Comments

No Joke. Charleston Sea Level Up Almost 2 ft in 100 years

Today was one of the highest tides we’ve seen in six years topping out at just over 8 feet (our normal high is just under 6 feet). Roads all over the metro area were submerged and shut down, making traveling for two hours on either side of the high tide like playing a game of Frogger. Yeah – you can get to the other side, but you better watch out! A confluence of the harvest moon, winds off the coast, and normal Fall higher-than-normal tide created what we call a King Tide.

While you usually see typical Charleston nuisance flooding at high tides coinciding with heavy rains, today (and yesterday too) it was blue skies and puffy white clouds. So even though there was nary a drop of rain, with a King Tide, the extra water has nowhere to go. It just burbled up and spilled over into whichever concrete roadway might be in its path.

Check out this fantastic photo from the Historic Charleston Foundation’s Instagram page, (follow them – they have good stuff) taken on East Bay Street behind our massive seawall!

Historic Charleston Foundation's Flood Photo

Historic Charleston Foundation’s Flood Photo

This nuisance flooding seems to be happening more often, and it turns out, there may be a reason for that.

Jason Emory Parker, the interactive editor at the Post and Courier, researched the mean sea level in Charleston harbor, averaged by month over the last 93 years, and found it had increased by 1 foot, 9 inches. That’s a lot of water people. Check out their great interactive animation of sea levels over time.

And according to this Charleston City Paper article from yesterday, ‘Worst Flooding Still to Come’,

Last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that Charleston ranked seventh among U.S. cities in nuisance flooding. Since around 1960, the city has experienced a 409 percent increase in average flood days with rates accelerating since the 1980s.

So – there you have it. 7th in the nation is not a place where we want to be, but I say, we can’t do much about it, so let’s just embrace it. Let’s create some beautiful canals. Let’s have a little Venice! Here’s a funny (photoshopped) photo courtesy of Charleston Mix from a month or so ago at the corner of Meeting and Calhoun.

Gondolas in Charleston – Courtesy of Charleston Mix or @charlestonmix on Twitter

And by the way, Charleston Mix  makes the best Bloody Mary mix in the Southeast. You might need to get you one and sit a spell, while you watch the water come in.

Posted in Charleston Idiosyncracies, Charleston Lifestyle, Urban Life | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

New on the Market: HARLESTON row – 6 new rowhomes in Harleston Village

You may recall way back in December 2013, I wrote a post entitled “Turning Blight to Beauty“, and at the bottom of the post, I gave you a little teaser of a project I was working on with Julia F. Martin the Architect, and Jeffrey Roberts of Ecovest and JJR Development.

It was a mere blighted parking lot then.

And now, it is becoming something beautiful!  I am excited to announce that after many years of the team working hard to create it, HARLESTON row, is officially launched and underway.

Dear readers, meet the 6 contemporary rowhomes at HARLESTON row. Each is priced at $789,000 for 3 bedrooms 3 baths, a two-car garage (yes in Downtown Charleston!) and an extraordinary living roof with a deck and sunset views looking toward the Ashley River. Of course the finishes are stylishly impeccable, and the construction quality is high.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


As of today, we already have three under contract after less than 2 weeks on the market, so if you want to learn more and become part of this new community in historic Harleston Village – visit the website I created for it and take it all in. 🙂 You can follow the progress of the construction here, and look for them to be complete by the end of 2015.

HR TItle Page

Posted in Charleston Peninsula Real Estate, Developments, For Sale, Harleston Village, Urban Life | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Watch! Extraordinary Aerial Video of Morris Island Lighthouse

This came across my Facebook feed today, and I can’t help but share it with you – a beautiful aerial video of the Morris Island Lighthouse just off Folly Beach. Many of you know this isn’t just an ordinary lighthouse. Rather it is one that stands by itself out in the middle of the ocean, crumbling but not forgotten, with a century and half of stories to tell. Thank you Dan Crawford of Crawford Productions, Inc, for shooting this sunrise moment.


Morris Island Lighthouse Folly Beach, SC from Daniel Crawford on Vimeo.


How did it get this way you ask? With the construction of the jetties at the entrance of the Harbor in 1889, the ocean currents changed to such a degree that a huge swath of Morris Island eroded away, leaving the lighthouse atop only a small piece of land, visible around low tide. You can still get close to it via a pedestrian path at the very northeastern end of Folly Beach, but look only, do not swim, as the channel between the lighthouse island and Folly has treacherous currents!  However, you CAN go by boat as I did almost 5 years ago to celebrate a friend’s birthday with a lighthouse picnic. Not only was the experience of being on the tiny island in the middle of the ocean extraordinary, but also we were rewarded with a pod of dolphins strand feeding just feet from our toes.  See the amazing video from my 2010 post and know how rare it is to see this in the wild.

If you want to learn more about the Morris Island Lighthouse history, go here and be sure to note it is now on the National Register of Historic Places. And if you want to become part of the effort to save it, join Save the Light and help protect one of our unique and important local treasures.

Posted in Inspired, Salt Life | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

These past nine days…

These past nine days, though raw and sorrowful, have been full of respect, grace, humility, freedom and love. A coming together. Extraordinary beauty. Joy.

I can say that in the wake of all that, with the culmination of today’s events, from the smallest gesture of unity on the sidewalk of Marion Square, to the National commitment to letting love win, I have never been more proud to be a Charlestonian, a South Carolinian, and an American.

And then just when I thought it couldn’t get any better…

Amazing. Grace.

Today. I am in awe. And I am changed forever.


Posted in Inspired | Tagged | 3 Comments

We’ve got Behemoths on the B.A.R. Agenda June 3

Update June 5 – The BAR ruled as follows:

  1. Jasper – DENIED.
  2. Apartment Building – WITHDRAWN.
  3. Hotel – APPROVED.


Three Behemoths to be precise. Three projects so large, so complex and so controversial, they had to have their own separate meeting happening June 3 at 4:30PM in the Charleston Museum Auditorium (because many many many people will be attending). I say they are behemoths because in Charleston, don’t forget, we like our buildings short and small for the most part. Our church spires should rise above all, our water vistas should be maintained, and our architecture should be memorable. On the docket for review will be:

1. The Sergeant Jasper – 13 stories.

2. An Apartment Building –  7 stories.

3. A Hotel – 9 stories.

Let start with my favorite and by far the most controversial. All images below were taken from the public presentation available here until June 4.

The Sergeant Jasper – 310 & 322 Broad Street

You may recall reading my earlier post about the Jasper coming down with my musings about what was going to be in its place. The first proposal of a series of low, wide, 4 and 7 story buildings, with Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning was struck down by an angry public. A jeering, angry, button-wearing public. So, the Beach Company went back to the drawing board and returned with a design that their current grandfathered and antiquated 3X zoning allowed – a 20-story building that would tower over any other on the Peninsula.  Ahem. That didn’t go over so well either. So now they have submit a design for the third time, bringing the main tower height down a bit as part of a mixed-use development that includes luxury residential units, office space, neighborhood retail space and almost 600 parking spaces.

My personal opinion outside of the neighborhood context?? I think the architecture is stunning, and an example of what is appropriate for Charleston. But it’s humungous.

The Jasper - View from Broad Street

The Jasper – View from Broad Street

Moving on to the next behemoth…

East Central Lofts Phase 2 – 601 Meeting Street

Currently near the corner of Meeting Street and Huger Street, right under the highway, you’ll find the East Central Lofts, a lofty 72-unit apartment building that recently sold for $12.4 million to a new developer. The building is 43,000 square feet and four stories tall.

Phase 2 of this project will dwarf this. Chomp on these numbers for a second – 7 stories, 222,000 square feet total with 274 apartments and 15,600 square feet of ground floor retail/office space. Gack!!!  It is so big, I can barely fit the screen shot into this post.  For reference in the image below, Phase 1 – the original East Central Lofts is that smallish building on the left hand side.

East Central Phase 2 - View from Huger Street

East Central Phase 2 – View from Huger Street

What’s even more important about this project, is that if approved, it will join more than 1,000 other apartments planned or under construction in a half mile radius.  That influx of people in this relatively quiet industrial/residential area blows my mind.

But don’t forget, we’ve got the final behemoth joining it across the street – the hotel….

The Hotel – 600 Meeting Street

We’ve seen this one come back to the BAR again and again since 2013, when I wrote about its total flame out.  This new proposal is 9 stories tall, with some ground level retail space on Huger Street, and a rooftop restaurant (yay!). I can’t tell how many rooms are proposed (around 170??) but given that the site is more than 1.5 acres it’s ALOT.

The Hotel - View from Huger Street

The Hotel – View from Huger Street

So, there we have it.  These three buildings are just the start of behemoths on the Peninsula (though of course there are already others), but with the entire WestEdge development, Courier Square and more to come, we better get used to high density living and the pros and cons it brings, or just get the heck out.



Posted in Developments | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments