By Molly Parker
Published Feb. 24, 2009
Lead Dog LLC owner Alan St.Clair believes the new high-tech business center he just opened in North Charleston could lead to the creation of 100 new jobs with average salaries of at least $70,000.
The company announced recently that it has officially completed the Lowcountry Innovation Center at the Navy Yard in North Charleston. St.Clair said he is looking to locate about 15 businesses in the 40,000-square-foot renovated structure on the former Navy base. The building is aimed at fostering the Lowcountry’s high-tech industry, St.Clair said, allowing the region to compete for high-paying jobs against other Southeastern cities such as Savannah, Raleigh and Charlotte.
As a past member of the Charleston Digital Corridor’s board, St.Clair said he has seen the need for this type of affordable creative space.
He has already located one business there called Myconostica Ltd., a United Kingdom-based medical diagnostic company that specializes in rapid and highly specific tests for life-threatening fungal infections.
The Lowcountry Innovation Center is a first-of-its-kind building in the region designed specifically to serve as incubator space for creative industry firms and knowledge-based companies, he said. St.Clair is renting offices in the renovated building ranging from 800 to 8,800 square feet. The cost is about $15 per square foot. Since announcing the building’s completion, St.Clair said he has received inquiries from 10 businesses seeking details about the space. The offices are located in a Navy building originally constructed in 1943.
St.Clair said he imagines a host of companies from a variety of fields will share the building. Those workers will share ideas and insight, and lend a creative and sympathetic ear to one another in the coffee break room, he said.
“When you bring a Web site designer and an architect and a microbiologist into one building, you never can be sure what you’re going to get,” St.Clair said. “They will sit down and talk about their problems even across fields. They will all have a great set of skills that complement each other.”
St. Clair said he was able to keep the costs down -- he is renting space at about 30% below market value -- by employing efficient building practices such as high-impact windows, compact fluorescent bulbs, a low-flow water system, LEED certified dry wall and paint, and local plantings that do not require irrigation.
St. Clair, who has developed similar buildings on a smaller scale in downtown Charleston, says that the Lowcountry Innovation Center offers free parking, office spaces that allow on-site presentations, and a quality space at a lower cost, thus meeting the demands of company expansion and contraction as needed.
Other Lead Dog LLC projects include properties in peninsular Charleston, including 525 King St., for upscale retailer Maine Cottage and Bill Huey & Associates Inc., a local architectural firm; 392–394 Meeting St., for the Charleston Digital Corridor, Charleston School of Law and KHAFRA Engineering Consultants, an Atlanta-based, multi-disciplinary firm.
Reach Molly Parker at 843-849-3144.