Lowcountry Innovation Center opens on Navy Yard

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.

Lowcountry Innovation Center opens on Navy Yard 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.

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Added: 24 Feb 2009

I wish Alan St.Clair the best of luck and admire his spirit of innovation in providing space and an enironment for new businesses. Years ago, we worked with the community and Mayor Riley in bringing Control Data Corporation here in 1981 to create a business incubator out of the former American Tobacco Plant. Control Data then was establishing business incubators which they called Business and Technology Centers in a number of U.S. cities. After they did the Business and Technology Center here, they also did similar facilities in four other South Carolina cities.Several years later when their business changed, Control Data sold these centers. However, while they were here,they helped foster a number of businesses. The community should support Mr. St.Clair because what he is doing will advance the area's future. With our best wishes, Jim Tobias

Jim Tobias

Added: 24 Feb 2009

I have a client that asked about the Old Navy Yard the other day. This is wonderful to hear they are putting businesses back in there. Good for local economy and a great location for business professionals. Thanks for the update. Pat Broghamer RE/MAX 843-725-8095

Pat Broghamer

Added: 24 Feb 2009

Good luck.

Paolo Dalla Zorza

Added: 25 Feb 2009

We are looking to move our wine importing business down S.C. and we are starting to look for warehousing space, approx 5000-7000 square feet

Joseph Petralia

Added: 25 Feb 2009

Alan St. Clair and Lead Dog LLC are pioneers dedicated to creative and innovative ways of providing affordable office space and bringing jobs to the low country. Good luck and much success.

Anthony moore Sr

Added: 4 Mar 2009

Hello, Following this article, I made several attempts to contact Myconostica Ltd. in the UK. Do you have any local contact information? I am looking to relocate to Charleston, SC this year and wish to speak with someone about a possible career opportunity. If you should have any contacts of other companies that will be opening up, please let me know. Many Thanks, Anita Dawson 770-298-9060 cell

Anita Dawson