A large-scale outdoor music venue plans to start welcoming national and touring musical acts as soon as April when The Refinery on upper Meeting Street opens a 1,500-person capacity amphitheater-style stage.
The venue will be located on the campus of company’s office and commercial space complex on the Upper Peninsula.
A restored passenger railcar from 1956 will serve as a “green room” for acts, a nod to the industrial site which once housed a former oil refinery at 1640 Meeting Street Road.
There are 36 leased office and commercial spaces with varying square footages in two historic buildings at The Refinery, with a brewery and distillery on the ground floor. A 220-space parking lot, nearby 300-space garage and bathroom facilities will support the large-scale open outdoor event space in the development’s courtyard.
The amphitheater space will be available for private events, along with The Refinery’s rooftop event space which accommodates 150 people and offers views of downtown Charleston.
The amphitheater will be a venue for a Charleston Wine + Food Festival event in March and the Spoleto Festival has shown interest, said Lindsay Nevin, owner and CEO of Flyway Companies, which developed the project with Mountain Shore Properties.
The Refinery’s two beverage tenants, The Whale, an Asheville-based craft beer collective, and Sweet Grass Vodka, a Charleston vodka distillery, will offer concessions to concert-goers.
Nevin was behind the office space-brewery-distillery-music venue combination, which broke ground in 2019.
“This is a new segment of business for (Flyway Companies) that we have not been involved in (before),” he said. “Our offices are located here, and — as corny as this may sound — the idea of being able to leave the office on a Thursday or Friday afternoon and go downstairs and get a beer and listen to music was really where the idea stemmed from.”
Savannah architecture firm Sottile & Sottile, a longtime Flyway Companies partner, handled design for the renovated historic buildings along with the curved outdoor stage and curved paths in the open space.
Flyway Companies plans to use local entertainment agency Ear for Music to book local and regional acts along with national booking agencies.
Flyway is still looking for a restaurant tenant to move into a first-floor space equipped with food service safety regulations and 3,000-square-foot outdoor space. The future restaurant will tap into a customer base that includes The Refinery’s office tenants, concertgoers and other visitors.
Aside from the restaurant, every office and commercial space in the Refinery’s two buildings are fully leased, Nevin said. Tenants lean toward local, creative industries and include Hudson Cooper Design, Jane Pope Jewelry, Liollio Architecture, Nice Brands, Ohm Radio, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Rebecca Atwood Designs, Queen + Knox by Mary Welch Fox of HGTV’s “Breaking Bland” and Cortney Bishop Design.
“COVID threw us a couple of curve balls, but I think we’ve leased up as quickly as any new office project in the Upper Peninsula,” Nevin said. “We also have the ability to build one additional building on the north end of the site, so we’re not completely built out. A performing arts (space) was a piece that we wanted to include in the project. More than anything, I want this to be an asset to the city of Charleston.”g