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Charleston City Council denies extension of Charleston School of Law agreement

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Charleston City Council voted Tuesday night to inform Charleston School of Law that it does not intend to extend an agreement partially designed to keep the school on the peninsula.

The 431 Meeting St. property was purchased by Charleston School of Law from the city in 2005, according to Charleston County property records, for construction of a permanent campus for the school. In the interest of keeping Charleston School of Law on the peninsula, the city sold the property at a 25% discount and financed the law school’s purchase for $865,000.

The original agreement between the city and Charleston School of Law stipulated that the property had to be used for a law school, but the City Council amended that agreement in 2017 after the School of Law said the property might not be suitable for a law school and was exploring a possible sale.

The current agreement says that if the property is sold, the city receives $1.865 million, which is the cost of the loan plus $1 million, or 25% of net proceeds of the sale, whichever is greater.

The modified agreement was meant to last a maximum of two years, with a third year possible unless Charleston or the School of Law gave 60 days notice that it wouldn’t like to extend the agreement.

With City Council approving the notice to the Charleston School of Law, the $865,000 loan comes due July 20, when the agreement ends, and if the property is sold, the city gets 25% of the net proceeds.

City Council discussed the Charleston School of Law agreement for more than 45 minutes during the Ways and Means Committee meeting, which immediately precedes the City Council meeting. Many council members said their opinions on the agreement had changed in the past two years as new information has come to light, such as the fact that Charleston School of Law intends to sell the property to a hotel developer for $12.5 million and the fact that Mayor John Tecklenburg represented Charleston School of Law as a commercial real estate agent prior to being elected in 2017.

District 1 Councilman Gary White, who also chairs the Committee on Ways and Means, said that he’s also had conversations with Charleston School of Law President Ed Bell, who told him the law school is also considering not selling the property and building a campus as had been planned.

Tecklenburg attempted to defer the motion about providing 60 days notice to Charleston School of Law so the city would have more time to talk with the law school, but was defeated 2-11 despite being joined by District 12 Councilwoman Carol Jackson. The motion to provide notice passed 11-2, with the “nay” votes coming from Tecklenburg and Jackson.

Read more in an upcoming print edition of the Charleston Regional Business Journal.

Reach Patrick Hoff at 843-849-3144.

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