MOUNT PLEASANT — Where shoppers once grabbed a gallon of milk, selected a choice cut of meat or picked up fresh vegetables, office workers soon will handle business deals, meet clients virtually or in person or enjoy some fresh air on an outside patio.

A former Bi-Lo supermarket on Shelmore Boulevard has been reworked into a 50,000-square-foot, mixed-use property for office and medical tenants with space available for retail use as well.

Currently a large empty shell with a wide central corridor halfway across the building, the redevelopment is a classic example of adaptive reuse of a former idle property.

From the outside, the reworked structure is totally different from its past life as a Bi-Lo. The former barrel-vaulted roof elements have been removed, and an expansive two-story foyer with a unique circular lighting feature can be seen behind a grid of glass.

An affiliate of Charlotte-based commercial real estate firm Collett Capital paid $12.8 million for the nearly 10-acre site in 2019. The firm redeveloped the property in partnership with Lions Gate Capital LLC, also of the Queen City, and WECCO Development of Charleston at a cost of about $10 million, according to William Cogswell of WECCO.

The renovated former grocery store now features 18-foot ceilings, 10 skylights and the potential for a variety of floor plans starting at 2,400 square feet.

Two tenants have been lined up so far, said Cogswell, who’s also a state lawmaker.

An undisclosed medical office will occupy 7,500 square feet while a technology-related business has signed on for 2,500 square feet. Cogswell said they are now in the permitting stages. He did not have a move-in date for either firm.

The redevelopment involved a complete interior demolition, the cutting of more than 35 openings for new windows and skylights, installation of a new roof, and the addition of six building entrances.

“We opened up all of the exterior walls to bring in more light,” Cogswell said as he walked through the building Feb. 15. “Since it could have been darker, we put in skylights as well.”

He also pointed out that multiple access points allow for flexibility of uses and users. Some of them lead to outside areas that can be used as patios.

The existing retail space surrounding the building received exterior upgrades to match The Shelmore’s new façade. Extensive landscaping and hardscaping around the structure also were added.

Cogswell said he is not worried about workers returning to the office after the pandemic eases.

“We are all in for the long term,” he said. “The macroeconomics for Charleston and the region are very strong. That’s not to say we won’t have any hiccups.”

In three or four years, barring a new economic downturn, Cogswell believes the office market will be back to pre-pandemic levels.

Ladson-based Frampton Construction renovated the building, and project manager Brendan Gilbert called the transformed space “a completely different, innovative use” for the East Cooper office market.

Construction started in February 2020 and was completed in December. LS3P Associates was the project architect. Palmetto Commercial Properties of Charleston is handling the leasing.

Bi-Lo parent Southeastern Grocers of Jacksonville shuttered the supermarket in 2018, along with 93 others across the Southeast as the company entered bankruptcy reorganization to trim its debt load.

Last year, the company announced it would shutter all of the Bi-Lo stores that it could not sell to focus on the Winn-Dixie business, dissolving a chain that was started in the South Carolina Upstate in the early 1960s.

Bi-Lo is down to two supermarkets in the Charleston area. They are expected to close in April unless a buyer comes forward.

Article by Warren Wise, The Post and Courier
Warren Lance Wise covers retail, real estate and Charleston International Airport for The Post and Courier. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, he holds nearly 50 local, state and national awards for journalistic excellence.