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Navy Yard gets historic district designation

Charleston Regional Business Journal
Ashley Fletcher Frampton
November 10, 2010

The portion of the former Charleston Navy Yard known as the hospital district has been listed with the National Register of Historic Places, a designation that opens up tax credits for rehabilitation projects.

The Noisette Co. recently announced the designation. The Charleston Naval Hospital Historic District, as it is officially called, is the third historic district within the company’s 340-acre Navy Yard at Noisette redevelopment project to be listed on the national register.

Recent development activity within the Navy Yard at Noisette project has centered on the Navy Hospital Historic District, and now property owners who rehabilitate buildings there can qualify for combined state and federal tax credits totaling 30% of project costs, said Jeff Baxter, director of development for The Noisette Co.

The district contains about 20 existing buildings, including the 150,000-square-foot former hospital that has eight wings, the company said. Other buildings in the district were used primarily for medical support services and as medical officers’ housing.

Coleman-Snow Consultants, which recently rehabilitated a building in the district for its offices, sponsored the process of getting the district listed on the national register, Baxter said. The company will be the first project to benefit from the tax credit.

Another building in the hospital district, formerly officers’ housing, is under contract and the buyer could also utilize the tax credit, Baxter said. He declined to discuss details about the deal.

So far, the sprawling hospital building itself has not been redeveloped.

Baxter said The Noisette Co. is “focused on” the building, which he called the next logical step for development given the activity around it. No plans are concrete at this point, he said.

The Naval Shipyard Historic District and the Officers’ Housing Historic District previously were selected for the National Register of Historic Places through an extensive documentation process that takes nine to 12 months, Baxter said.

Baxter said state and federal officials identified the three districts during the base closure process in the mid-1990s. As a result, the districts, which comprise roughly a third of The Noisette Co.’s redevelopment project, already are subject to historic preservation covenants.

In addition to tax credits, the federal designation triggers a special review if any federal construction projects or projects using federal grant money were slated for the area, Baxter said.

Of The Noisette Co.’s 340-acre redevelopment project, roughly 240 acres are for sale in foreclosure proceedings. That portion of the property served as collateral for a $23.8 million loan made in 2006.

Charleston County Master-in-Equity Mikell Scarborough ordered a 60-day period for bids to be submitted, and that period ends Nov. 15. A court hearing is scheduled Nov. 16 for bids to be opened.

If written bids do not cover the debt, Scarborough has said that a traditional foreclosure auction would take place Dec. 7.

Officials with The Noisette Co. have said the collateral acreage snakes through their redevelopment area and isn’t all contiguous. The company has not shared a map of the collateral property, but according to an attorney’s description in court, the Naval Hospital Historic District falls within it.

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