New owners plan mixed-uses for Cigar Factory

Staff Report
Published April 24, 2014

The five-story Cigar Factory has sat mostly vacant on the corner of Columbus and East Bay streets for eight years.

Now under new ownership, the site is poised once again for development.

A joint venture between Federal Capital Partners and Roi-Tan Investments LLC — a group of local investors led by William Cogswell of WECCO Development and Jay Weaver of Weaver Capital Partners — recently acquired the building at 701 E. Bay St.

A joint venture of investors recently acquired the Cigar Factory in downtown Charleston with plans to create space for offices, restaurants, events, retail and parking. (Photo/Liz Segrist)

A joint venture of investors recently acquired the Cigar Factory in downtown Charleston with plans to create space for offices, restaurants, events, retail and parking. (Photo/Liz Segrist)

The investors expect to start the redevelopment immediately with base building completion set for the first quarter of 2015. Plans call for a mixed-use property with space for offices, retail, events, restaurants and parking.

The venture is actively recruiting tenants and expects to have office and retail announcements in the coming months. Plans do not call for residential space as previously envisioned by a former owner.

“We are excited to create a unique environment to address the growing demand of office and retail users that want to be downtown,” Cogswell said.

The 244,000-square-foot development sits on 4.5 acres near the Charleston Harbor at the base of the Ravenel Bridge in the Eastside neighborhood.

Built in 1882 as a cotton mill, the Cigar Factory was sold in the early 1900s to American Tobacco Co., which manufactured the cigar brand Roi-Tan until the 1970s. It then became office space under various owners.

The Cigar Factory’s last tenant, Johnson & Wales University, vacated it in 2006 when the school relocated to Charlotte.

Developer TSO Cigar Factory LLC, a partnership of Atlanta-based The Simpson Organization Inc., purchased the building in 2007 with plans to build residential units and space for commercial and retail tenants.

The recession hit and the project’s financer, Silverton Bank, closed its doors and project financing came up short. Former developer Boyd Simpson said the building was under contract in October, but declined to name the buyer at the time.

The new developers expect the building’s proximity to Upper King Street and Interstate 26 will attract local and national tenants, according to a news release.

The total project costs for the redevelopment of the building, including historic restoration of the facade and windows, and build out of the tenant spaces will exceed $55 million. Developers will retain the renovations already completed in recent years.

“Tenants and visitors to the building will enjoy a meticulous restoration of this excellent example of Victorian-era commercial architecture, with unique, high, exposed ceilings and sweeping views of the river, Ravenel Bridge and the city skyline,” the release said.

Both Federal Capital Partners and Roi-Tan will contribute equity capital to the transaction. Federal Capital Partners also will provide mezzanine debt financing. The project is eligible for Federal Historic, State Historic and Textile Mill Tax Credits.

Roadstead Real Estate Advisors LLC and Palmetto Commercial Properties Inc. have been retained for the office and retail leasing.

Roi-Tan Investments LLC consists of local investors: Walker Brock, William Cogswell, Mark Cumins, Todd Eischeid, John and Darrell Ferguson, John Tuck Morse, Richard Morse, Jerry Scheer, Chad Walldorf and Jay Weaver.

Federal Capital Partners, a Chevy Chase, Md.-based privately held real estate investment company, also acquired Dorchester Village, a 310-site mobile home community in North Charleston, earlier this year.

Previous coverage
Cigar Factory under contract to be sold

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