Wheeler & Wheeler announces Justice Place in Beaufort

September 12, 2023

Columbia-based developer Wheeler & Wheeler Properties announces Justice Place, the conversion of the former Beaufort County Jail at 1409 King St. into nine individual residential condominiums. Construction on Justice Place has begun, and units are expected to be available for lease in the summer of 2024.

Garvin Design Group of Columbia, which has won numerous awards across the state for its preservation efforts, is the architect for the jail, and notable features of the jail have been retained and incorporated into the design. As examples, the visiting area has been converted into a breakfast area in one of the units, hallways have been preserved, and portions of old jail bars have been used as accents.

“The conversion of the former county jail into residential condominiums is a great example of adaptive reuse,” said Jeff Wheeler, a partner in Wheeler & Wheeler.  “It allows us to take a deteriorating property and adapt it for another use while preserving the historic character of the structure, a structure that might well have been torn down and lost.”

The adaptive reuse project will consist of six one-bedroom, one-bath units ranging in size from 605 to 735 square feet and three two-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath units ranging from 900 to 1,050 square feet. Five units will be on the first floor and four on the second floor. Parking for the residents will be on site.

Hill Construction of Columbia is the general contractor. Hill, Wheeler & Wheeler, and Garvin also teamed up for the very successful renovation of the Fannie McCants Elementary School into 11 townhomes in the historic Earlewood neighborhood in Columbia.

Constructed on the site of an earlier jail, the present jail was built in 1939 and expanded in 1961. A small addition was added to the rear of the building around 1975. The original 1939 jail was designed by Beaufort architect Jules D. Levin and is a well-developed example of Art Deco/Moderne architecture.

However, the building has sat vacant and deteriorating for several decades and has become an eyesore in the historic Northwest Quadrant.

Preserving the historic character of the jail, while at the same time meeting modern housing standards, was a challenge achieved through a strong collaboration among the South Carolina Department of History and Archives, the National Park Service and Garvin Design Group. Garvin created a design that is both functional and architecturally consistent with the area. The jail is on the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing building to the Beaufort Historic District.

Conveniently located near the city center and shopping, Justice Place is expected to appeal to urban professionals.

Following approval of the jail project, Wheeler and Wheeler began discussions with the county through the County Attorney, Brittany Ward, about the remaining portion of that block. “The negotiations have been collaborative and proactive with a goal of developing affordable housing. Both the City and the County have been supportive of this project,” Wheeler said.

Justice Place is now a part of Justice Square, a proposed two-block residential community envisioned by Wheeler & Wheeler in Beaufort’s historic Northwest Quadrant. “The Justice Square development will meet a range of housing needs and is envisioned as a catalyst to spur further revitalization in the heart of that historic area,” Wheeler said.

In addition to Justice Place, the proposed urban infill development of Justice Square may include:

The Cottages at Justice Square — 12 to 14 single-family homes nestled on the remainder of the block bounded by King, Monson, Prince, and Wilmington streets where the jail is. Priced to attract both first-time home buyers and empty nesters, The Cottages at Justice Square are being designed by Allison Ramsey Architects of Beaufort and built by Hill Construction. They will be marketed by Charter Realty of Beaufort. The project will include the relocation of the county DHEC office and vital records storage facility at 1407 King St.

Justice Park – A proposed development of workforce homes on the adjacent block bounded by King, Wilmington, Prince, and Harrington streets. The design concept for Justice Park is being prepared by Beaufort architects Cooter Ramsey and Jeremiah Smith of Allison Ramsey Architects.

The two-block Justice Square residential community will bring new life to an underserved area, demonstrate that different income levels and styles can be aesthetically compatible and economically connected, and add to the tax base and economic growth.

“The Beaufort Housing Study identified four critical elements which Justice Square will meet: affordable rental housing, for sale housing to moderate income households, residential development that will appeal to millennials and young professionals, and adaptive reuse of existing vacant structures for residential purposes,” said Zack Wheeler, also a partner in Wheeler & Wheeler Properties.

Adjacent to downtown Beaufort and just two blocks from the waterfront, the Northwest Quadrant’s location makes it desirable for homeowners and convenient to places of work, including the growing medical complex centered on Beaufort Memorial Hospital, the Technical College of the Lowcountry and the downtown branch of University of South Carolina-Beaufort.

Wheeler & Wheeler combines over 50 years of development, marketing and ownership experience developing and marketing historic properties such as the former Fannie McCants Elementary School and 1520 Lady St. adapted to office space, both in Columbia, as well as recent projects such as St. Anns Alley, an urban infill project marketed for Spring Street Partners, and FLOW Townhouses, both in West Columbia.


About Wheeler and Wheeler Properties

Wheeler and Wheeler focuses on undervalued properties that need redevelopment or value enhancement. Wheeler and Wheeler has successfully redeveloped and re-purposed office projects, historical projects, residential and resort properties. We often pursue these properties in partnerships formed and managed with other investors.