Refreshing development

By Katy Stech – The Post and Courier
One Cool Blow puts homes, offices in a long-overlooked part of town
In an open field on upper Meeting Street, past the concrete ramps that link the peninsula with the Ravenel Bridge, construction workers are piecing together the first significant new building the area has seen in years.

The development, called One Cool Blow, will be a mix of 52 condominiums and commercial office space in the city’s East Central neighborhood, near existing subsidized housing complexes and a handful of longtime businesses.

The developer is calling the 75,000-square-foot project a catalyst for change in an up-and-coming area that for years had been overlooked.

“What you have up in this area is a blank slate,” said William Cogswell, president of Wecco of Charleston LLC.

The One Cool Blow site is on old farm land. Historically, local residents called the neighborhood Cool Blow Village, after the breezes the area captures from a nearby bend in the Cooper River.

Work crews have started pouring the foundation for the three five-story buildings. The first residents are expected to start moving in next spring.

The commercial component of One Cool Blow is already full, with a pilates studio and offices for a public relations business, a graphic design company, an architect and an engineering firm.

“We’re going to have about 90 people living and working on one acre,” Cogswell said.

Wecco is using concrete wall panels for the frames of the buildings. Cogswell said the material is sturdy and energy-efficient, and that it will likely reduce termite and mold problems. Also, his firm opted for communal garden space on top of the buildings, instead of private balconies.

One Cool Blow joins a growing number of “infill” projects on the Charleston peninsula, where open tracts of land are in short supply. Infill developments have gained favor among some urban planners because they are built within previously developed areas.

The upshot is that roads and municipal services, such as water and sewer lines, usually don’t have to be built or extended.

Wecco said convenience is the key selling point of One Cool Blow. Residents will live only a few blocks from Interstate 26 and the Meeting Street access to the Ravenel Bridge.

Eight of the units are earmarked as “workforce” housing, meaning that sales are limited to buyers who earn less than about $66,000 a year. Those units are priced at $183,000.

The 44 market-rate condos, which range from about 800 to 1,200 square feet and are priced from $240,000 to $340,000, will feature 11-foot ceilings with large windows. All but about 10 of those units have been reserved.

Charleston-based Wecco previously has helped design and develop projects in Savannah, as well.

Elsewhere in Charleston, the company is working on a 130,000-square-foot development on Morrison Drive called New Market.

Full story at http://www.charleston.net/news/2007/aug/17/refreshing_development13248/