Turning Blight to Beauty with Ecovest Development and Julia F. Martin, Architect

Since the beginning of June, I have been lucky enough to be living out my own personal real estate fantasy. No, not my house-with-dock-and-view-coupled-with-Downtown-pied-a-terre one. The other one. You see – one of the reasons I love this business of real estate here on the Charleston Peninsula is because it is incredibly diverse. From $50,000 to $5,000,000, from teeny tiny to grand, from burned out and termite ridden, to dashingly new to graciously restored – it’s all here, and it all gets me excited.

So, imagine my delight when I was invited to be a part of an incredible team here in town, Ecovest Development with Jeffrey Roberts as Managing Member, and Architect Julia F. Martin, both of whom have been working together for years doing exquisite infill projects and historic renovations – turning areas of blight, into places of beauty.

Allow me to shock your system right from the get go. Here’s a google street view photo of one of those aforementioned blights.

Historic Duplexes

Two historic (decrepit) duplexes

Those were two of four derelict historic homes situated amid trash-filled vacant lots and a cesspool of sordid behavior. Remember how you used to drive really fast coming off the highway on the King Street off-ramp? Yep – you sure did.

And now what do you do instead? You slow down and gaze in awe at the assortment of beautiful homes – both new construction and restorations – and the street full of happy families.  This, my friends, is a marvelous example of Jeffrey and Julia’s vision and abilities.  Serendipitously, this area just happened to be the focus of the Master Preservationist Project I completed in May 2011, just prior to Jeffrey and Julia becoming involved in collaboration with the City of Charleston (and the origins of my acquaintance with them).

So check out a slideshow below of some of the projects they have done around town, including that area I referenced above – now called Engel Street.

These next two homes were the first we launched as a team together at 14 1/2 Carolina Street and 290 Coming Street in the Westside neighborhood, just a few blocks from Upper King Street shops and restaurants.  Both Julia and I picked out most of the finishes (oh yes, that kind of thing is also part of my personal real estate fantasy 😉 ) – floors, cabinets, tiles, paint, counters, etc….Both homes were under contract shortly after coming on the market while still under construction.

14 1/2 Carolina

 290 Coming

If you like the looks of those, we have a few more coming up on the Westside in January, with Julia’s trademark architecture and similar finishes!

We are also doing an historic renovation and restoration of a little house at 273 Coming Street. The poor thing was full of termites, falling over, vinyl clad and sad – until the Jeffrey/Julia team got their hands on it. We expect the renovation to be complete some time in January and it’ll be a gem! Here is a photo of the home pre-construction from Google Street View, another one as it is under construction, and a rendering of what it will look like when complete.


And then if we go back to my own neighborhood, my darling Harleston Village, we have an incredible project slated for the first half of 2014. Here’s a google street view photo of what it looks like now.

Oh-so-attractive parking lot

Oh-so-attractive parking lot

And here’s a sneak peek of what it will look like when it’s done. The project, ‘sixty-two-west’, was conceptually approved by the Board of Architectural Review just last Wednesday!

62 Gadsden Rendering Bays

Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you?? 🙂  Because this corner is currently that vacant parking lot, across from two more parking lots, the team sees this as a rare opportunity to bring beautiful contemporary architecture to the neighborhood, and activate and enliven this part of town. To me, the most exciting part of these six residences is the incorporation of living roofs – the first time this has ever been done on a project of this size in Charleston. Stay tuned for more details this winter.

So can you see why I say I am living out my own personal real estate fantasy? It’s everything I love all rolled into one, and it’s all about transformation.

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