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By Andrew Miller
NORTH CHARLESTON — A Las Vegas-based real estate investment group has purchased 3.67 acres at the former Navy Base that includes a building that used to house the commandant’s offices.
Camino Verde Group plans to refurbish the six-story, 158,000-square-foot former Navy office building at 2260 Noisette Blvd. into a multifamily project with 118 units. The project will include 18 studio apartments, 74 one- bedroom units, 18 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units.
Land around the project will be redeveloped into another mixed-use project with an eight-story, 295-unit building.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The last time the property changed hands, Anchor Center Investors LLC bought the parcel from Noisette Investors LLC for $2.675 million in June 2015.
“This acquisition exemplifies the firm’s investment strategies, which focuses on markets with strong fundamentals and economic growth,” said Kevin Romney, co-founder and managing director of Camino Verde Group. “This purchase is the first step in our expansion in the eastern United States. We appreciate the fundamentals of the greater Charleston market because it is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas that has seen substantial job development.”
The property, built in 1970 and decommissioned in 1996, will be bordered by the “Navy Yard Charleston” development — an expansive project acquired by real estate development firm Jamestown.
Jamestown — an international real estate company headquartered in Atlanta and Cologne, Germany — plans to create a 1.2 million-square-foot mixed- use neighborhood that includes office space, residences, shopping, dining, new green spaces, a concert hall and an outdoor events venue. The developer, which manages more than $12 billion in assets, has projects in the U.S. that include Chelsea Market and Industry City in New York, Ponce City Market in Atlanta and Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco.
“We are very familiar with Jamestown’s properties and that fits into our vision of the area,” said Mike Ballard, co-founder of Camino Verde Group. “We see a great opportunity for workforce housing in the area. We see Charleston as a very attractive market.”
Federal and state tax credits are playing a role in the transaction, Ballard said. The property qualifies for South Carolina Abandoned Building and Historic Credits. Opportunity Zone tax breaks will provide substantial reductions in capital gains taxes for investments in the project.
“We do a lot of tax-advantage transactions,” Ballard said. “This area is in an opportunity zone and the property also qualifies for historic tax and building tax credits. Making this investment seemed like a no-brainer for us.”
The firm plans to restore the historically significant features of the building to preserve the cultural heritage and land, including the commandant’s office and the 130-seat briefing auditorium.
Ballard said the company hopes to start renovations on the building by September 2022 and have the first tenants move in by the second quarter of 2023.
“Parts of the first floor will include some commercial property that we envision serving the tenants,” Ballard said. “Jamestown is going to have a lot of destination dining and entertainment with trendy retail and restaurants. We want something that’s going to serve the tenants and the workforce in the area.”
The Naval Base was a key employer and economic driver for the greater Charleston area until it shut down in 1996, and it has been going through a decades long repurposing ever since.
Twenty years ago, North Charleston announced a partnership with the Noisette Co., which had a plan to redevelop 340 acres on the north end of the former base with thousands of homes, offices, shops and parks. The city sold that land to Noisette for $9.6 million, illustrating how little the area was thought to be worth at the time.
The plan was meant to be a national model of sustainability and a catalyst for improving a 3,000-acre swath of the city on and around the site.
But by 2009, amid the Great Recession, lenders foreclosed on 240 acres of the site and the Noisette venture was over. The state Commerce Department took ownership of the land, and eventually made a deal that transferred portions to North Charleston, settling a long-running dispute over plans for rail freight lines to serve a new shipping terminal for the Port of Charleston.