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Old Archer School building undergoing $42M renovation

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Archer Apartments will include new construction and renovation of the existing structure. (Image/Bello Garris Architects)Construction has begun on a $42 million rehabilitation project that will bring 89 affordable housing units for seniors to the old Archer School on Nassau Street.

The project is a city of Charleston collaboration with the Humanities Foundation, James Doran Co., and a collection of funding and development partners, according to a news release.

The plan calls for converting the long-vacant Archer School into housing for seniors living at or below 60% of the area median income. Construction is expected to be complete early in 2024, the news release said.

The Humanities Foundation, in a joint venture with James Doran Co., identified the east side of Charleston as a priority area for their Affordable Housing Development, Resident and Community Services, and advocacy, the release said. Through working with the city of Charleston, community leaders, historic preservation groups and advocacy groups, the Humanities Foundation identified opportunities to preserve existing affordable housing while also developing new housing opportunities for low- to moderate-income seniors.

The Humanities Foundation purchased the Archer School from the Charleston County School Board in 2020 using funds allocated by the city of Charleston’s Affordable Housing Bond Fund. The CLIMB Fund also provided additional funding to assist with predevelopment costs.

The final project will be called Archer Apartments.

Archer School has been vacant for more than 20 years. (Photo/Paul Cheny)“The need for quality, affordable housing has never been greater than it is right now,” Red Stone Equity acquisitions managing director Darren T. Swanson said in the news release. “At the same time, it has never been more challenging to build new communities in light of rising interest rates and rising costs due to global supply chain issues and overall inflationary pressures. I want to thank all of the wonderful and hardworking people at Humanities Foundation for their tireless efforts, over many years, to bring this community to fruition. Not only are they creating 89 units of very high-quality housing to deserving seniors in Charleston, but they are doing so while preserving a historically significant piece of this beautiful city. Red Stone Equity partners could not be more proud to be investing $16 million of equity into this very important redevelopment.”

The site will be preserved with new construction added to accommodate all 89 one- and two-bedroom apartment units.

“Humanities Foundation and James Doran Co. bring together their combined years of experience in urban real estate development, affordable housing and community engagement to the redevelopment of the historic Archer School,” Humanities Foundation President Tracy T. Doran said in the release. “It seems like everything we have ever done has prepared us for the work we are currently doing on the Eastside. We look forward to providing 89 beautiful affordable apartments for seniors in a true community landmark and thank our many funding partners and team members for coming together to make Archer Apartments a reality.”

Funding partners include the city of Charleston, Red Stone Equity Partners, Sugar Creek Capital, Chase, Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust, Charleston Redevelopment Corp., The CLIMB Fund, SC Housing and the Housing Authority of the city of Charleston.

The project will be funded in part by bonds,

The Charleston Housing Authority is excited for this opportunity to issue bonds for further development of affordable housing here in the city,” Housing Authority CEO Art Milligan said in the release. “Our Agency is committed to the creation of decent, safe affordable housing and this is a great display of what can happen when public and private entities work together to tackle a community issue. We are thankful for the Humanities Foundation and their efforts to bring together a group of organizations in order to make this happen for current residents of the city and future generations.”

Development partners include Humanities Foundation, James Doran Co., JDC Management, Martin Riley and Associates, Bello Garris Architects, Design Works, Forsberg Engineering and Surveying, ECS Southeast LLP and Trident Construction.

The Humanities Foundation has served the community since 1992, developing more than 2,500 units of affordable and workforce housing. Beyond affordable housing, the Humanities Foundation provides a range of services to assist residents with health and human services needs.

We are grateful to our partner, the Humanities Foundation, for taking on the $42 million rehabilitation of the former Archer School to convert the building into affordable housing for our senior population,” Mayor John Tecklenburg said in the release. “Repurposing a building that has sat empty for more than 20 years and creating 89 affordable rental homes serving our aging population is a win-win-win for the city of Charleston.”

Reach Ross Norton at 864-720-1222.

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