Anyone who lived in the Lowcountry last summer can attest to the fact that it rained a great deal. Still, that did not deter the construction team working on East Central Lofts - the project was completed on time, in August of 2013, despite weather snafus.
"They wanted to make it happen in time for the new school year," says Parker Meyer, director of media and marketing for project backer Charleston Rents. "August, of course, is a popular move-in time for the college crowd."
Not that only college students would want to live in the newly minted East Central Lofts building. With its chic, industrial vibe, it represents a side of Charleston completely separate from the Rainbow Row or horse-drawn carriage aesthetic that outsiders associate with the city. Instead, East Central offers more proof of what actual Charleston residents have understood this entire time - a progressive lifestyle can, and does, exist in the Holy City.
Located on Huger Street just a short distance from Taco Boy, East Central Lofts is a dreamlike living situation for many urban professionals: It's close to the foot of the Ravenel Bridge, close to downtown Charleston and close to Hampton Park. Meyer describes the building as being situated on the "low line" - a well-beaten path underneath the Interstate 26 overpass traveled by bicycles and skateboards. There's also a sidewalk for those who prefer the smooth surface, but, however you choose to travel, the location of East Central can't be beat.
"The building essentially redefines the view of Charleston," Meyer points out. "You get different views of the harbor and a different perspective of the highway."
Those of us who've not been to the East Central grounds have probably at least seen the mural on the side of the building, which proclaims "East Central" in bold, blocked letters. Painted by David Boatwright of Hominy Grill's "Grits are Good for You" fame, the words beckon the curiosity of commuters as they drive to and from the Ravenel Bridge.
And, rather than "loft" being just a fancy, urban word for apartment, it's actually a description of the way homes in East Central are built. With high ceilings and a number of windows that reach from the floor all the way up, there's plenty of breathing space in the units. Some of the windows even stretch from wall to wall, offering views that will keep visitors and residents engaged in the busy world of Charleston, yet still allowing for privacy. Units come in either one bedroom, two bedrooms or studio size, each spacious and offering a different perspective.
It's not hard to picture yourself in a bigger city when you step inside the East Central building, or even the parking area below. With ample space for bicycles, kayaks and even smoking areas, this is not a community that isolates different lifestyles. Rather, East Central seems to accommodate everyone. You can even bring your pet. The floors are either hardwood or polished concrete, so there's no carpet to worry with. According to Meyer, future visions for the building include a commercial bottom floor with retail space. But for now, residents can occupy themselves with the bocce ball court and the community sitting areas in the hallways, which are perfect for meeting new friends.
East Central Lofts is the brainchild of two urban living enthusiasts: Greg Atkins and Joe Church. With the announcement of the new community, a few people were so excited that they started making plans before the building's completion.
"We got a sofa shipped to us here at the Rent Charleston office," says Meyer with a chuckle. "It was gorgeous and still had the tags on it. It was for the very first resident of East Central Lofts! He was enthusiastic about moving in."
And who wouldn't be, frankly? The neighborhood is a burgeoning district for Charleston, particularly with the boom of the city's technical industry and a healthy influx of restaurants, shops and other businesses heading to the Upper Peninsula.
The marketing, perhaps, has also aided a mix of tenants to seek out East Central Lofts. Meyer and the Rent Charleston team have created videos of testimonials and property views to keep East Central Lofts a hot topic.
"It's so cool to watch the business men in suits skateboard the low line," Meyer mused. "This is definitely an up and coming neighborhood."
Denise K. James is a freelance writer living in Charleston.
Hardowood floors mark the East Central Lofts apartment homes, which can be equipped with fancy furniture (Provided).×
The kitchen sits off the living quarters (Provided).×
A protective overhang spotlights the entrance to the apartment home community at 274 Huger St. Leroy Burnell/Staff 4/22/2014×
Stainless appliances distinguish the kitchens (Provided).×
Noted painter David Boatwright designed the block lettering for East Central Lofts. Leroy Burnell/Staff 4/22/2014×
A sizable parking area sits behind East Central Lofts. Leroy Burnell/Staff 4/22/2014×
The lofts sport large windows (Provided).×
Contrasting brick and glass materials set off the exterior. Leroy Burnell/Staff 4/22/2014×
This window at East Central Lofts offers views of trees and the parking area below (Provided).×
The apartment homes village is situated on Charleston’s peninsula near the on-ramp to the Ravenel Bridge. Leroy Burnell/Staff 4/22/2014×