On Wednesday afternoon, an architect will seek approval for construction of an eight-story apartment building at the site of a warehouse that collapsed on Woolfe Street in late August. Initial mockups of the design include a portion of the original building's brick façade.
The collapse happened in the early morning hours of Aug. 28 at 24-30 Woolfe St., a historic brick building that once housed an ice warehouse and in later years became a seafood and cold storage warehouse. Dan Riccio, the city's director of livability, says the owner was in the process of demolishing the roof and interior walls for some time leading up to the collapse, and he says this summer's torrential rains had slowed the demolition project considerably. "The delay and the rain would probably be the cause of the collapse," Riccio says.
The new plan for the site is to build an eight-story apartment building over two stories of parking. Architect Stephen Ramos of LS3P Associates has submitted conceptual renderings of the building to the city's Board of Architectural Review, which will decide whether to grant conceptual approval for the building tomorrow. The renderings show one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and studio apartments, plus larger penthouse suites on the top floor and a rooftop deck. Retail space on the ground floor features columns built with salvaged bricks from the original building. The design, which is slightly modified from a previous design that did not meet the BAR's standards, includes a portion of the original warehouse at the bottom right corner as seen from Woolfe Street, with its original handpainted sign still intact: "CONSUMERS ICE CO."
The architect and the building's owner, Carolyn Torlay, could not be reached for comment.
Next door to the warehouse site at the renovated Woolfe Street Playhouse, theater co-owner Dave Reinwald has been watching the collapsed building with interest. Standing in front of the theater and gesturing at the recently built (and more modern-looking) Elan Midtown luxury apartments and Holiday Inn hotel, which sandwich the warehouse to the north and south, Reinwald says, "We just hope it's not more of this."
According to Riccio, the warehouse sat vacant for about 20 years. He says the owners got permission from the BAR to demolish unsafe portions of the roof and interior walls, but they were instructed to leave the exterior façade intact. Now only a portion of the façade facing Woolfe Street remains standing.
As far as the history of the warehouse, here's what we know: According to a paper by Rebecca Wieters published in Appalachian State University's research journal History Matters, the Consumer Ice Company was opened on Woolfe Street in 1899 by a German Charlestonian named August William Wieters who had come to the Holy City to work as a grocery store clerk. He had worked his way up until he bought his own grocery on Calhoun Street. Then, seizing on the scarcity and high price of ice at the time, he sold stock to start an ice company on Woolfe Street, dug three artesian wells, and reportedly delivered 150 tons of ice per day via horse-drawn wagons. The paper states that the business was sold to the regional Southern Ice Company in 1924.
Later, the warehouse became the site of Taylor's Frozen Foods & Cold Storage, which filed for incorporation with the state in 1977. It is unclear exactly when the company stopped using the building.
The Board of Architectural Review will meet at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday on the third floor of 75 Calhoun St. Read the full meeting agenda here (PDF), and see more renderings of the proposed apartments here (PDF, starting on p. 188).