Blas-Milani Real-Estate Holdings
The preservation of 288 King Street is the result of collaborative efforts between the property’s owner, tenants, City of Charleston politicians and staff, preservationists, structural engineers, contractors, and consultants, including MHA Charleston. Federal and state historic tax credits helped to generate the equity needed to complete the stabilization of the building’s separating facade, reconstruction of the property’s historic fabric, and the necessary construction of a contemporary structural endoskeleton.
Part of the Charleston Old and Historic District, and, more specifically, downtown Charleston’s historic commercial corridor - King Street, 288 King Street was originally constructed in 1838 by George Miller. Major upgrades were made to the building in 1883 by then-owner, John Henry Steinmeyer. Three years later, the property suffered serious structural damage due to Charleston’s devastating 1886 earthquake.
Though damaged from the earthquake, the property continued to be used for a variety of purposes, primarily as dry goods stores, and later, as a variety of pharmacies. At some point in the early twentieth century, the building’s hidden structural problems were further exacerbated by a tenant that removed a critical support at the building’s facade in order to make way for a new glass storefront.
Still, the building continued its perilous existence, even operating as restaurant space for roughly three decades before the dangers of the separating façade became apparent to its occupants. Property owner Bob Milani was made aware of the facade’s “tilting” into King Street. Milani and his consultants called the City of Charleston and the premises were immediately vacated on account of life-safety.
Milani worked with a team of contractors and structural engineers to devise a plan to save 288 King Street. The first solution involved the addition of a concrete and I-beam structure in order to support the façade and provide protection to King Street pedestrians. After this stabilization, major preservation and rehabilitation work began - historic fabric was painstakingly removed and protected while new structural elements were built within the existing building envelope to ensure the building’s structural security. This new endoskeleton involved beams that had to be inserted into the structure with the use of the largest crane available on the East Coast. The historic façade was then fastened to the new I-beam structure.
The property’s historic fabric was returned to the building and the building was fully redeveloped, incorporating more usable rental space. The property’s upper two floors, previously exclusively used for storage for decades, were rehabilitated into four, market-rate apartments. A skylight on the top floor was restored, allowing the interior of the apartments to receive additional natural light. The ground level retail space (with original leaded-glass windows) became the home of Tecovas, a handmade western boot and clothing manufacturer based in Texas.
- Preservation Society of Charleston | 2021 Carolopolis Pro Merito Award
- Preservation South Carolina, SC Department of Archives and History (SC SHPO), and the Office of the Governor | 2021 SC Historic Preservation Honor Award
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