By Patrick Hoff
Plans to renovate the building at 161 East Bay Street, formerly home of a Lagunitas Brewing Co. brewery and taproom, are coming together, according to one of the owners.
Brenden Maloof, a principal at New Jersey-based commercial real estate firm Heights Equities Inc., said right now he’s working on interior demolition to bring it “back to its original warehouse roots, brick to brick walls,” before Heights Equities launches into renovations.
“It’s had basically 100 years of just unfettered people putting one thing on top of another thing,” Maloof said. “There’s four or five different electrical systems and nothing really works anymore and it’s just time to clean up the building and get it back to what it was.”
Lagunitas began repairs on the building last year, but the brewery vacated the property when it became clear that the building needed more work than they were willing to put into it. Heights Equities, which purchased the building in 2013, took over the repairs from there.
Maloof said he’s working with Liollio Architecture to design the new interior space, with the building’s first floor remaining restaurant space and turning the second and third floor into an event space. Maloof said there isn’t a tenant for the restaurant space yet, and he predicted it would be another year before demolition and construction are complete.
“We’re still in the midst of getting our partnership together and doing what we’ve got to do,” he said. “But that plan is pretty solid.”
To finance the project, Maloof is using money from the $4.5 million sale of Terrace Plaza on James Island, which was purchased by a group that includes Paul Brown, the owner of the plaza’s Terrace Theater.
Heights Equities bought the shopping center in 2016 for $3.7 million because the company liked the neighborhood and liked the theater, Maloof said.
But the center ended up not fitting with the Heights Equities portfolio, he said. All of the firm’s other commercial properties are triple-net —meaning the tenant pays taxes, insurance and common area maintenance, among other costs — but Terrace Plaza wasn’t, requiring Maloof to be a more hands-on landlord.
Also, Maloof said, “there was a lot of deferred maintenance issues, so we had to go through and deal with a lot of that. So the property wasn’t quite as profitable as we had originally thought because of the deferred maintenance; and the parking’s always an issue there, which is not to say that it can’t be fixed, but it’s a big problem. ... We didn’t really want to go through that.”
Heights Equities owns several other properties in the Charleston area, including beach rental houses on Sullivan’s Island, a Red Lobster in North Charleston, and a historic residential property on South Battery.
By Patrick Hoff