After 30-plus years on Concord Street, the Post & Courier
reported last week that the State Ports Authority office (and its sweet waterfront view) is going up for sale. The bidding opens today, but before the panting of eager investors salivating over the site gets too loud, prospective buyers will have to decide whether to also purchase the office's joint property, 186 Concord St. — also known as Fleet Landing restaurant.
"A buyer can come in and buy parcel A, the Ports office by itself. Or A and B which includes our restaurant," explains Weesie Newton who owns Fleet with her husband Tradd (the son of Buzzy Newton of Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co.). "Most likely, if you’re going to spend the kind of money this will bring, you’ll want the whole thing. We’re very concerned about that."
Lucky for Newton, Fleet has eight years remaining on its lease with SPA, so it won't be going anywhere soon. But the start of bidding means she's begun talks with potential investors about the restaurant's long-term plans.
"There are plenty of people all over who are interested," Newton says. "There’s a group in Dallas, California, hotel chains. I think, personally, for Charleston it would be nice if it was somebody local who came in with something that would really work downtown."
A local would at least have an understanding of the complexities of Charleston's building restrictions of which Fleet has many. The building that houses the restaurant was constructed by the Navy in 1942 as a place to off-load sailors and for the re-supplying of ships. "It's a view corridor right now and nothing can be done to the building. You can't go up or out," she explains. "Another restaurant would also have difficulty with the kitchen."
Those detractors are what makes Newton hopeful that a prospective buyer will see the benefits in keeping Fleet's lease as a complement to whatever they build in the old SPA spot, be it luxury condos, a boutique hotel, or otherwise.
In the meantime, the Newtons are working on other expansion plans for another restaurant. They recently purchased City Paper
's offices here at 1049 Morrison Drive.
"We're super excited about that area of town. Morrision Drive is the place to invest," says Newton. "We have a number of concepts we’re considering."
Whatever restaurant concept they choose, we can only hope it will be in keeping with the spirit of CP
Fleek Landing, anyone?