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Opening Day is soon for ballpark condos in Charleston

By Rachel Molenda, Staff writer

“Ready to buy one?” East End Main Street director Ric Cavender asked one of his organization’s board members.

The group toured ParkView Lofts, the condominium-style lofts — still very much in skeletal form — in the old Kyle Furniture warehouse Thursday afternoon.

Tenants should be able to move in by August, said Pison Development President Bill Turner. Pison bought the buildings, located at 1214 and 1216 Smith St., for $625,000 last summer and has spent the past six months redeveloping the property.

Tenants and visitors of ParkView will be welcomed by a “zen” fountain, complete with bonsai trees and koi fish, in the lobby at the corner of Morris and Smith streets, in Charleston’s warehouse district.

Caged work lamps guided Main Street members up stairwells and through corridors of the still mostly open floor plans of the buildings.

Turner said last August that tenants could move in this spring but progress on the building was delayed by weather. The buildings needed windows and doors cut into them, and that process was slowed because of rain and snow, Turner said.

Work has picked up since the weather has warmed. Eleven of the 14 units are sold, and Turner’s crews are doing “on finished” work — installing drywall and flooring and painting — on the lofts.

The remaining two-bedroom, two-bath lofts are 1,500 square feet and cost about $270,000 each, Turner said, add that demand for the lofts was high.

“People [are] wanting to live downtown in Charleston and not drive as far to work,” Turner said. “[There are] less yards to cut and more comfortable surroundings.”

Mark Miller, also of Pison, said tenants could specify their own floor plans and choose whether to leave the exposed brick and beams typically associated with lofts or to cover them with drywall.

Each loft is different, but Miller showcased several units with open floor plans, which is “what you want with a loft style.”

Some lofts have balconies, while others have covered porches, perfect spots to “smoke a stogie and drink a bourbon,” remarked one board member. Every tenant will have access to a rooftop deck that overlooks Appalachian Power Park. The penthouse will have its own private deck with a similar, but higher, view.

East End Main Street gave Pison two $20,000 facade grants funded by the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority. Cavender said that money was used to make windows in both buildings and also provided design services for the buildings’ exterior.

Turner also is looking to fill more than 9,000 square feet on the building’s first floor with a commercial tenant. Turner said Pison will “build to suit,” so a company or organization can have a tailored floor plan.

Turner and Miller said an organic market and café is interested in leasing one portion of ParkView’s first floor.

“We believe that we’re close to leasing the bottom space,” Miller said Thursday.

Board member Amy McLaughlin said the project “certainly is great for the East End,” as the organization has made redevelopment of the warehouse district a major priority.

Lori Brannon, of the city’s Planning Department, said the lofts will change things on Smith Street for the better.

“Getting people living on Smith Street, that’ll be so exciting,” Brannon said.

Shawn Means, of Habitat for Humanity, said it is “mind boggling” how much downtown living has increased over the past five years.

ParkView Lofts is one of several projects Turner has downtown. Pison converted the former Fife Street Apartments, in the Lowenstein Building on Capitol Street, into luxury lofts years ago. The developers also are building Shrewsbury Village — a 32-unit senior housing facility located on Shrewsbury Street near Dickinson and Lewis streets.

“I live here. I want to make it a nice play to live work and play,” Turner said of his focus on downtown Charleston.

“This type of development is what we expected to happen,” Cavender said Thursday.

It is typical in other cities for loft-style living to follow construction of downtown baseball parks, Cavender said.

“I’m really happy we’ve caught up with the rest of the country,” he said, adding that he thinks the completion of the project will create a domino effect in the area.

Reach Rachel Molenda at rachel.molenda@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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