NORTH CHARLESTON (AP) - A team of real estate developers plans to transform parts of the former Charleston Naval Base into a sprawling redevelopment of offices, shops and restaurants.
Partners behind the planned 1.2 million square feet of new development in North Charleston have completed similar projects in New York, Atlanta and Charleston, the Post and Courier reported.
"I think the idea is to create an exciting, aspirational place for people to work and live and be entertained," said Michael Phillips, president of Jamestown, an international real estate developer partnering on the project.
The plan includes some new construction along with renovation of vacant historic buildings on the former base. One idea is to turn the base's historic Power House, built in 1909 to provide electricity to the base, into a concert venue.
Work could begin later this year on the project, which is estimated to take between 10 and 15 years for completion.
The developers are banking on continued growth in Charleston's metro area pushing more people outside the core city to neighboring locales such as North Charleston.
"You can already see it in the migration, and we think that's going to continue to happen," said Jay Weaver of Weaver Capital Partners, also a partner in the project.
They aren't the first developers to unveil ambitious plans for the former Naval base, which closed in 1996. The Noisette Plan, a previous effort launched 20 years ago, had some success but ended in foreclosure.
The partners now eyeing the North Charleston property have a strong track record for pulling off challenging projects, said Tim Keane, Atlanta's planning commissioner who formerly served as Charleston's top planning official.
"They are well-executed, and the development teams see value in quality more than most anyone in the development business," Keane said. "I would say they are a group that really likes challenging sites and thrives on difficult situations."
In Atlanta, the same team was behind redevelopment of a former Sears Roebuck & Co. building that became a Ponce City Market and an old soap factory that is now Puritan Mill.
"For me, hearing that they are working on the Navy base makes perfect sense," Keane said. "I think it's good news for North Charleston."
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