City Council OKs Trolley Barn land deal

By Ashley Barker
abarker@scbiznews.com
Published Feb. 12, 2014

Charleston City Council approved selling a historic piece of downtown property to the American College of the Building Arts on Tuesday night.

After many hours spent debating the deal, including a special-called meeting on Monday, council members agreed to sell the 1.64-acre Trolley Barn property, located at 628 Meeting St., for $10.

Charleston City Council approved the sale of the Trolley Barn property to the American College of the Building Arts so that it can have a $1.5 million renovation. (Rendering provided)
Charleston City Council approved the sale of the Trolley Barn property to the American College of the Building Arts so that it can have a $1.5 million renovation.
(Rendering provided by Charleston City Council)
 
The property would be subdivided by the college, and the northern half would be transferred to Parallel Capital LLC, an investor in the college that has agreed to give the school $1.75 million. At least $1.5 million of that would be used to renovate the property. The Trolley Barn portion would be restricted to use as a school of the building arts.

The nonprofit institution — currently housed at the Old Charleston District Jail — offers liberal arts degrees in building trades such as architectural stone, carpentry, forged architectural ironwork, plaster working, preservation masonry and timber framing. The college has fewer than 50 students, and many of them, along with the founder of the college, showed up to the meetings to support the sale.

“The building makes total sense for the college. If you could go around the world and try to figure out what building to build, you’d come up with the exact design of the Trolley Barn,” founder John Paul Huguley said. “It’s about historic preservation and putting money back into the taxpayers’ pockets, but it’s really about the young lives that are going to graduate and save buildings for the future.”

Mayor Joe Riley and Kitty Robinson, representing the Historic Charleston Foundation, agreed that the proposal is an investment in the history and architecture of the city.

“We stand in full support of this proposal,” Robinson said during a public participation period of the meeting.

Council member James Lewis resisted the sale and said “to me, this is not a deal, and I’m still going to vote against it.”

“We’ve spent six or seven hours on this issue, so I really don’t want to discuss it anymore,” Lewis said to council members who were trying to garner his support. “My mind is made up.”

Due to discussions about the community’s embrace of the college, Parallel has agreed to spend an additional $100,000 on outreach.

Reach Ashley Barker at 843-849-3144 or @AshleyNBarker.

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