With cranes and trucks moving cargo boxes around the Wando Welch Terminal in the background, Port of Charleston officials broke ground Monday on the agency’s new headquarters, located on land adjacent to the terminal in Mount Pleasant.
For years, port CEO Jim Newsome has talked of relocating the port’s office from downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant — putting the office staff closer to cargo operations, consolidating office employees into one building and ideally creating a space where employees want to be.
During the groundbreaking ceremony, Newsome said he was excited to stand where the expanded office operations will be. The facility is expected to open in December 2018.
“It’s something that’s been long in the making. ... For me, this is sort of a capstone of a two-year cultural change initiative,” Newsome said.
Lowe Enterprises bought the S.C. State Ports Authority’s existing 36,000-square-foot headquarters in downtown Charleston in January for $38 million. That waterfront site, at 176 Concord St., will be redeveloped into a luxury hotel.
The port’s move to Mount Pleasant will allow it to more than double its office space, to 84,000 square feet. The new headquarters will consolidate its 200 employees, who currently work from multiple office locations.
The ports authority board approved an ordinance in May allowing the port to spend up to $40 million on the project, which is being built on port-owned land. Choate Construction and LS3P were chosen for the design-build portion of the project.
The four-story building will be a collaborative, campus-like office with an open floor plan and meeting spaces throughout, officials said. It will have views of the Wando Welch Terminal and the Wando River.
The entrance will have a glass atrium, and a glass curtain wall will extend for all four floors. The building will have executive suites, administrative offices, a cafeteria, a patio with amphitheater seating, a reflecting pool, an event lawn, a fitness center and on-site walking trails, said David Burt, architect and vice president with LS3P.
The work will involve filling nearly 7 acres of wetlands; the port bought 45.6 wetland mitigation credits from the Congaree-Carton Wetland Mitigation Bank in June.