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East End condos are a great development

Developer Bill Turner's plans to convert the vacant Kyle Furniture warehouse on Smith Street into $250,000 condominiums is the kind of development downtown Charleston needs to see.

In the location, location, location world of real estate, he may have a winner. The 15 condos and penthouse will be near the interstate, the Capitol Market and Charleston Area Medical Center's General Division. People at Appalachian Power Park can see the building behind left field.

At a Charleston Urban Renewal Authority meeting this week, Turner outlined his plans and answered questions. His plans to erect garages do not meet CURA's requirement of a minimum 20-foot rear setback, and he sought a waiver.

"I don't want a fence, a 20-foot setback and a building," he said. "It would create a security nightmare."

CURA members listened and unanimously approved a waiver.

Attracting people to live in downtown Charleston has been a goal of civic leaders for a long time.

While technically this project is closer to the East End than downtown, it would accomplish the same goal of attracting young professionals to the city - and perhaps older residents as well.

Over the years, many complicated housing proposals have emerged from the public sector only to fizzle out. Perhaps price has something to do with that.

This one shows promise. Turner has experience, having converted the former Fife Street Apartments on Capitol Street into luxury lofts.

More importantly, private money is showing up. Turner said the property was on the market for years until his company purchased it for $625,000 on July 2.

"We'll be filing building permits and hope to start construction this week," Turner said. "Pre-sale is underway and we should be pretty well done by spring of next year. There could be occupants by the end of the year."

This means there is a market for these condos and penthouse, which means that similar developments likely will follow.

Here's to that, and development policies that encourage it. The future of the city depends on it.



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