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Global real estate firm expands plans at North Charleston site

Jenny Peterson //February 14, 2024//

Developers and the city of North Charleston broke ground early in 2023 on the redevelopment of two historic storehouses at the site. (Image/Navy Yard Charleston)

Developers and the city of North Charleston broke ground early in 2023 on the redevelopment of two historic storehouses at the site. (Image/Navy Yard Charleston)

Global real estate firm expands plans at North Charleston site

Jenny Peterson //February 14, 2024//

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A major global real estate investment firm has reached a milestone in expanding its development footprint at the former North Charleston Navy Base.

In December, the city of North Charleston voted to move forward with the purchase, sales and developer’s agreement for just more than 37 acres to Jamestown, Weaver Capital Partners and WECCO Development for $10.7 million.

The future Battery Park is slated to become a mixed-use development project totaling up to 70 acres and will include more than 1,400 residential units, a mix of commercial uses, green space and more in a prime location along the Cooper River on the northern end of the site.

Jamestown, an Atlanta-based global real estate investment firm with $11.9 billion in assets under management and a portfolio throughout the United States, Latin America and Europe, is currently developing the neighboring site known as Navy Yard Charleston. That development is projected to encompass approximately 3.5 million square feet of commercial and residential space and over 2,600 residential units across 85 acres.

Jamestown entered into the multi-phase Navy Yard redevelopment project in 2021 and the first phase is set to open later this year.

“We knew, broadly speaking, of the opportunity of the (Battery Park) site since we entered the market with our investment at the neighboring Navy Yard property in 2021,” said Dana Griffin, CEO of Navy Yard Charleston and director of development and construction at Jamestown.

Jamestown was one of seven firms that submitted a request for proposals to purchase, develop and reimagine the Battery Park waterfront property. Qualified developers had to provide funding sources, show a track record of successful similar developments and make presentations to an evaluation committee of city staff members.

“Both Raleigh Iron Works and Ponce City Market (in Atlanta) are similar to Battery Park in that we are creating holistic ecosystems of uses and experiences at a district-wide scale, mixing historic adaptive reuse and new construction to form dimensional neighborhoods, rooted in the history and culture of the surrounding communities,” Griffin said, adding that the team envisions Battery Park as a new “Central Business District” and “distinctly North Charleston waterfront destination.”

The Battery Park development will include residential, retail, office, entertainment spaces and parks along the waterfront, construction of a new pavilion with a market hall, event space and an active green space along the water. Approximately 23 acres will become public spaces, parks and streets.

Seventeen percent of the residential units will be reserved as workforce housing for those earning less than 120% of the area’s median income.

Griffin said Jamestown has a team of 10 based in the Charleston area working on behalf of the partnership of Jamestown, Weaver Capital Partners and WECCO Development, with support from people in different offices across Jamestown’s corporate structure.

“We look forward to translating our approach to creative placemaking,” Griffin said. “It’s an incredible waterfront property, and we are grateful for the city’s vision and leadership in bringing this development opportunity to the market.”

As part of the agreement, the developers will be given the opportunity to purchase an additional 20 acres to build out the site, for a total of 70 acres of development for Battery Park, once remaining property is acquired by the city of North Charleston from the federal government,  according to Ryan Johnson, with the city of Charleston.

Last summer, North Charleston City Council gave approval for the mayor and staff to begin negotiations for the sale of the property with the attached developer’s agreement, Johnson said.

Johnson said a significant portion of the money from the sale of the property will go back into the site, making the necessary infrastructure improvements, including replacing water and sewer lines, roadways, sidewalks and more. The naval base closed in 1996 and the city has been slowly redeveloping the site piecemeal.

“These projects take a lot of upfront capital. Everything will have to be put in new,” Johnson said. “The infrastructure there now doesn’t meet current-day city standards and it certainly doesn’t meet standards for the type of development we want to see out there. Essentially, everything will have to be replaced.”

While there isn’t a defined timeline for the project to be built out, Johnson said there are certain benchmarks that will have to be met within the developer agreement. The project is expected to take 10-15 years to build out.

As part of the agreement, the development team will target 15% minority and women-owned business contractor participation during the construction phase and establish a local apprenticeship program.

“We met with the Charleston County procurement director and program manager for disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) programs, as well as a number of general contractors that qualify as DBE,” Griffin said. “We are continuing that outreach and engagement now while also establishing additional strategies for implementation, such as an apprenticeship program, that support the full lifespan of the development.”

Johnson said the council’s approval of the sale of the property is an important first step forward to making Battery Park a reality.

“This moves the ball forward. Everyone’s excited about the next step and making this an accessible place for everybody,” Johnson said.