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Developers to transform 80-year-old ice processing facility into office park

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The former ice processing plant in North Charleston will be turned into an office park as part of a master plan that will eventually connect to Riverfront Park and other areas redeveloped on the former Navy base. (Rendering/The Middleton Group)By Jenny Peterson
Contributing writer

An 80-year-old abandoned ice processing plant on Spruill Avenue in North Charleston is getting new life as developers have broken ground to redevelop it into a modern and flexible office park.

Located just one mile away from Park Circle, the complete buildout of The Ice House at Park Circle development will add 46,000 square feet of adaptable use office space among three, two-story buildings — a renovation of the former ice processing building and two new buildings that will be added to the property. 

Three buildings on the site will be demolished to make way for the contemporary office buildings. Developers are using state tax credits through the S.C. Abandoned Buildings Revitalization Act for the renovation of the ice house processing facility. 

Pat Marr of Cobalt Property Group and Kevin Klemm of Paragon Commercial Development are partnering on this venture. The project is being designed by The Middleton Group architecture firm, which has designed projects including Blue Acorn, the Lumberyard, The Refinery and The Morris. 

“It was a big move for a commercial real estate company to come off the peninsula,” said Jim Garret, market leader at Colliers, which will lease space in the new development. “We are committed to Marr’s vision, and what he’s doing with the property, and committed to Park Circle’s growth and all the dynamics going on down there. We just think it’s the right place, right time.”

All three buildings will be adaptive use, built-to-suit tenants. Developers anticipate phase one of the park — 23,000 square feet in the former ice processing facility — to open by Thanksgiving 2021. The second phase, another 20,000 square feet in new construction, is set to be open early 2022.
The development is already pre-leased to regional and national tenants, the developers said.

“The whole project is 75% committed in pre-leasing,” Marr said.

Tenants will be Samet Corp., The Middleton Group and Colliers, which will move into suites ranging from 3,000-8,000 square feet in the ice processing facility with open concept areas, glass and original brick.

“We are restoring the outside of the processing facility with the original ice house logo and preserving the interior. We are converting the loading dock on the front of the building, which will be Samet’s main entrance,” Marr said.

Moving forward on an office park development during the COVID-19 pandemic — where many employees were forced to work from home — was a risk, but developers are forecasting that the office space market will bounce back and embrace build-to-suit spaces with creative configurations.

“I think big office users who have gone completely remote are going to need to have ‘touchdown’ spaces for their people, like multiple conference rooms and areas for teams to work,” Garrett said. “With this development, you can get 8,000-10,000 square feet of office space with multiple conference rooms to get employees together on a Tuesday and then go back and work remote from home on Wednesday. It’s a great alternative.”

Developers said the time is ripe for establishing a foothold in the burgeoning Spruill Avenue corridor, which has been spurred by new developments including Firefly Distillery and Holy City Brewery. 

“The city of North Charleston wants to redevelop the area after Firefly and Holy City Brewery came into that corridor, and I felt like an office park was the right play,” Marr said. 

Marr is excited by plans for the future, including North Charleston taking possession of Spruill Avenue from the S.C. Department of Transportation.

“The city is going in and instituting a plan for Spruill Avenue, where it will be pedestrian-friendly, with a new median, new lighting and plenty of parking,” Marr said. “That’s in conjunction with the Hugh Leatherman terminal, which will have its own flyover off I-26, so trucks will be rerouted to not go up Spruill Avenue.”

Developers said North Charleston’s long-term vision includes a master plan for pedestrian trails and bicycle path from Riverfront Park by the Navy shipyard across Noisette Creek that will terminate on Spruill Avenue near the development. 

“That whole area is being changed from industrial to a mixed-use area with residential, retail and now office space,” Marr said. “This is a long-term hold for us so that as we contribute and others contribute to this market, the area will only go up in value.”

Developers hope the office park will be able to compete with office markets in downtown Charleston and Daniel Island by offering a central Tri-county location with plenty of parking. 

Garrett said future plans could set aside 2,000 square feet of space in the office park that could be retail or a food and beverage option.
“For us, it has to be the right retail that will be an amenity for the tenants,” Marr said. “There are three restaurants across the street, but we think a smaller dining option or some kind of amenity that can serve tenants of this project and the surrounding neighborhood would be perfect.” 

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