It’s been a year since the City of North Charleston paid $2 million to buy 24 acres of land around a former Navy hospital that has sat vacant since the mid-2000s.
The property sits in a neighborhood that was once vibrant with activity and commerce. But the area became more run-down once the Charleston Navy Base closed in 1995. The decline eventually led to shopping areas boarding up and leaving. The area in the heart of North Charleston fell into disrepair and became a haven for crime.
“The shopping center there (Shipwatch Square) was once the largest in the Southeast,” he said.
But Mayor Keith Summey hopes a new deal with a group of developers will turn that around. The city’s redevelopment efforts began with the purchase of the old hospital. On Friday, he hopes to reach the next chapter when North Charleston and those investors close on the deal. He said the LLC includes a minority stake by Donald Trump Jr. (son of the famous real estate mogul).
“He does investments all over the world,” Summey said. “For them to believe that this is an opportunity to invest in the state of South Carolina is a good thing for us.”
City council approved the deal on Monday. The plan calls for the hospital to be torn down as part of the new development.
The $5 million deal includes incentives to attract a major grocery store to either the hospital property or the former Shipwatch Square site across Rivers Avenue. The developers have until Sept. 30 to decide if they will buy the 18-acre shopping center site for an additional $4.2 million.
But Summey said he’ll push for somebody to build a grocery store in the area. “We are committed to that community, we are going to get them a grocery story by hook or by crook.”
City leaders have been hesitant to jump at the deal. A similar agreement with a different developer fell apart last year. The LLC has agreed to pay $3 million up front, with the remaining $2 million due at a future date. However, Summey said the city gets to keep the $3 million and the land if the deal falls through.
Sheree Bernardi of Charleston affiliate WTMA contributed to this report