The Raven Cliff Co. — which is made up of founder and CEO Stephen Zoukis and COO Michael Wooddy — continues to invest in the Upper Peninsula as it prepares to open its newest venture, the Pacific Box and Crate development.
“This is the next up-and-coming area of Charleston for the next 50 years,” Zoukis has said.
The real estate firm began buying parcels in the area several years ago, with the goal of renovating old warehouses into commercial spaces to help meet the huge demand in Charleston for more office space and shared amenities.
They first put roots and funding into building Half Mile North and recruiting new restaurant concepts and tech companies there, including Blue Acorn and SIB Consulting. The cluster of mostly one-story office buildings sits between Morrison Drive and upper Meeting Street.
The duo has since moved its focus deeper into the Upper Peninsula area with the new Pacific Box and Crate project on Upper King Street. The development, which is wedged between Interstate 26 and a rail line, sits less than 1 mile from Half Mile North.
Formerly a hub of car dealerships and warehouses, the Upper Peninsula is mostly known today for vacant lots, industrial sites and single office buildings. Some companies have remained for years, while others made the move more recently, like Lowcountry Local First’s co-working space Local Works on upper Meeting Street.
The developers anticipate more office, multifamily, and food and beverage spaces moving nearby as the market tightens and rents rise throughout the rest of downtown.
“This is an up-and-coming area of Charleston, and companies took a little leap to come a little further north than most other companies have come yet. ... We are the first movers to this area, but I don’t think it’s that difficult of a stretch to believe we won’t be alone for long,” Wooddy said.
Wooddy said they did not envision a one-company tech campus with the Pacific project; rather, they wanted to recruit multiple companies and incorporate other elements into the property for on-site employees and the public to use.
“We wanted to have it fit into the urban fabric of the city and not have it be a campus sort of feel,” Wooddy said. “Initially, it’s hard to avoid the campus feel because there’s not much more in the area, but that’s changing rapidly. Breweries are popping up left and right, the property across the street just went under contract and apartments are likely coming soon to this area.”
Similar to how people go to Edmund’s Oast or Butcher & Bee at Half Mile North, people can go to the Pacific site to grab a coffee, eat dinner, visit the brewery or take a yoga class. A grassy area sits in the middle of the development for workers and visitors.
BoomTown, a Charleston-based tech firm that creates software for real estate professionals, is the first — and currently only — tenant at the Pacific Box and Crate site. It relocated from its 24,000-square-foot space off Rutledge Avenue to accommodate its growing workforce.
The tech firm has a large common area at its entrance, filled with couches, a flat-screen TV and a pingpong table. Old dock doors lead out to the company’s private patio space.
The large, open workspaces have pops of BoomTown orange throughout, and dogs amble among the desks. The hallways are named after Charleston streets, and employees work in the kitchen and bar areas. Some shoot hoops at the indoor half-court.
“It’s always exciting when the first group of tenants gets on the site because it really changes things so much with the life and energy they bring to it,” Wooddy said. “Half Mile was the same way when we got SIB (Consulting) in there. It was just this drab industrial construction site before.”
The Harbor Entrepreneur Center, which hosts accelerator programs and co-working space for entrepreneurs, is next to move in to space it’s leasing from BoomTown. CrowdReach, a Charleston-based web and mobile communications platform for small businesses and organizations, will move in nearby.
Within the same building, Edmund’s Oast plans to open a brewery and restaurant. A shipping container will be converted into a cooler with taps coming out of the sides — a centerpiece for the brewery and entrance hallway.
Edmund’s Oast’s space spills out onto a covered patio and a green space.
Michael Shemtov of The Daily and Butcher & Bee is spearheading a food hall next door. That venue has room for four tenants that will rotate on a regular basis.
Wooddy said possible options are a food truck looking to try brick and mortar, or an out-of-town chef looking to test the market. Most eateries will rotate monthly within Workshop Charleston.
Jonathan Ory of Bad Wolf Coffee will manage the day-to-day operations. Bad Wolf Coffee also will have its own space next door, and a pizza window sits beside it for to-go slices.
Twelve South, a Charleston-based producer of Apple accessories, and Charleston-based architecture firm The Middleton Group will occupy office space above the food hall. An open-air deck overlooks the entire property and leads to “the yoga cube.” Ashley Bell plans to open Reverb Charleston there. The boxy structure is made of a sort of plastic glass designed to withstand yogis’ movements against the walls.
PhishLabs, a Charleston-based cybercrime intelligence firm, will occupy the neighboring building and much of another nearby.
“We expect great things of this part of the Upper Peninsula,” Zoukis said. “Over time, as other properties in the Magnolia neighborhood are developed or redeveloped, we think this will become a significant employment center due to the advantages of proximity to downtown as well as other emerging Upper Peninsula neighborhoods.”