The new owners of the Sword Gate House are looking to put their personal touch on the historic dwelling by clearing out some of the items that came with the downtown Charleston property.

Atlanta-based Hindman Auctions announced it was hired by the as-yet-unidentified buyers to put the goods on the block at a virtual sale, including Federal-style furniture and various decorative objects that filled some of the rooms at 32 Legare St. The online sale was held Monday.

None of the furniture that was offered for sale is original to the South of Broad property, said Corbin Horn, Hindman’s senior specialist and director of furniture and decorative arts department.

“The other portions of the collection are decorative items that, like many of Sword Gate’s residents, lived for a time in an exceptional home on one of Charleston’s most historical and beautiful streets,” he added.

The auction website showed 116 lots, with all but seven of them finding new homes Monday. The highest bid of $5,120 was submitted for a George III-style four-post tester bed, mattress not included. The least expensive item — a continental brass altar candlestick mounted as a lamp — fetched $77. The auction proceeds totaled almost $92,000.



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Exactly who put the goods on the block is unclear. In late June, an entity called S.O.B Trust paid $10 million for the 17,142-square-foot mansion at the corner of Tradd Street, an all-time high for a South of Broad spread. The Post and Courier has learned that the representative for the buyer is employed by a Nashville entertainment management company, suggesting the new owner could be someone within the Music City music industry.

A must-see for downtown tourists, the Sword Gate House was built in the early 1800s. It served as an elite school for girls in the 1820s and ’30s.

The home had been on and off the market for more than a decade before the sale this summer. Bear Lake Realty Ltd., the previous ownership group led by the late billionaire financier Michael Dingman, paid $4.3 million for the property in 1999 and 2000 in a deal that recombined two previously subdivided parcels. The painstakingly restored house was put on the market in April 2009 for $23 million. The asking price was later cut to $19.5 million and then to $13.99 million.



Charleston airport kitchen

Charleston International Airport’s commercial kitchen has been mostly idle since October 2019, when British Airways’ last flight departed for London. File/Grace Beahm Alford/Staff


Kitchen air

A pricey food-prep area that’s gone unused for nearly a year at Charleston International Airport is getting repurposed.  

The $10 million commercial kitchen was built to supply inflight meals for British Airways passengers traveling to London from CHS. But it’s been idle since the carrier’s last seasonal flight departed a year ago this month.

In about 30 days, the kitchen will be operating again, though on a much smaller scale.

The Charleston County Aviation Authority inked a deal Oct. 1 to use the space to supply sandwiches for Hudson Group’s food concessions inside the terminal. Two airport employees will make the grab-and-go fare five days a week and sell them to the New Jersey-based vendor. 

Airport officials acknowledged the output will be small until passenger traffic returns to pre-pandemic levels, but they felt it was a good way to put the kitchen back in service.

“They are a great first commercial client,” Charleston International finance director Doug Boston said.

British Airways announced in May that it would not resume its seasonal service between the Lowcountry to London this year, citing the severe drop in demand brought on by COVID-19. The carrier has not said whether it will return to Charleston International in 2021.



James Robo

James Robo is the CEO of NextEra Energy. File/Provided/SC ETV 


Power play 

Earlier this year, NextEra Energy was lobbying hard in Columbia in an attempt to take over Santee Cooper, South Carolina’s state-run utility. 

Now, the Florida-based utility giant has its eyes set on an even bigger prize, according to a recent news report. 

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that NextEra made a run at acquiring Duke Energy, South Carolina’s largest power provider. 

Duke, which is headquartered in Charlotte and also controls the power supply for a large swath of Florida, reportedly rebuffed the offer. 

But that didn’t stop speculation from mounting in the energy industry, and NextEra may not be dissuaded from pursuing a takeover of Duke, according to the Journal.  

If the two companies were to combine, it would be a massive transaction. NextEra, which is valued at more than $138 billion, is the country’s largest investor-owned power supplier. And Duke, which is worth $65.6 billion, is ranked third on that list, based on its market capitalization figure. 

A takeover or merger by NextEra would affect hundreds of thousands of gas and electric customers in the Pee Dee and Upstate. Duke currently runs two electric utilities in South Carolina — Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress. It also owns Piedmont Natural Gas.

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Bigger ship on the horizon for the Port of Charleston

On the poll

The S.C. Supreme Court is offering lawyers a carrot to take a day off from the office and get involved in next month’s elections.

But it’s not an inducement to vote.

The high court announced last week that attorneys licensed to practice in the Palmetto State and who volunteer as poll workers on Nov. 3 will receive a six-hour credit toward their annual continuing legal education requirements.

“Service in this November’s election is particularly important because some persons who have traditionally worked as poll workers may be unable or unwilling to serve due to age or medical conditions, and social distancing measures and expected high turnout at some polling locations may result in the need for additional assistance,” the Supreme Court said Thursday.

Among other restrictions, volunteer lawyers must pull a full 12-hour shift and certify their participation in writing. Also, the offer is limited to polling sites within South Carolina, and judges are excluded.

Quarterly checkup 

Just a handful of South Carolina-based stocks climbed higher in the volatile third quarter, with one standing head and shoulders above the rest after putting an in-house financial scandal in the rear view mirror.

Shares of Greenville-based payday lender World Acceptance Corp. racked up a nearly 60 percent gain between July 1 and Sept. 30, when its shares closed at $105.55. It handily outpaced the broad-based S&P 500 benchmark, which rallied 8.5 percent for the three-month period.

Five other publicly traded companies that are headquartered in the Palmetto State also posted gains for the quarter: Domtar (up 24.9 percent); HireQuest (19.3 percent); Delta Apparel (17.6 percent); Denny’s (10.5 percent); and Benefitfocus (3.7 percent). The biggest decliner was Rock Hill-based technology company 3D Systems, which tumbled 29 percent to $4.91.

World Acceptance was miles ahead of the rest of the pack. Its stock started to climb by early August, around the same time the consumer finance firm agreed to pay $21.7 million to close a federal investigation into a seven-year bribery scandal at its former Mexico division under a CEO who was later fired. The company did not admit or deny culpability.

Last month, WRLD likely got a further boost from a newly announced plan by management to repurchase up to $25 million in common shares.

The company got its start in 1962 as World Finance with four loan offices in Greenville. It now operates about 1,200 locations in 16 states, including 95 in South Carolina. Its typical loan is between $300 and $4,000.

Budget buyout

One of the biggest names in the private-equity world has offloaded a budget hotel it owned in North Charleston.

Texas-based G6 Hospitality, which is part of Wall Street buyout titan Blackstone Group, recently sold the Motel 6 at 2551 Ashley Phosphate Road for $4.3 million, according to county land records. The new owner is Tredgold LLC, which is affiliated with Marietta, Ga.-based Kasandas Properties.

A Blackstone real estate fund acquired the North Charleston property just west of I-26 for about $2.96 million in 2012, when it bought the Accor S.A. economy lodging chain for $1.9 billion. It then created G6 Hospitality to function as the owner and management company for the portfolio.



Online purchases

Online purchases have been growing each year, but so have returns. File/AP


Growing returns

Online purchases continue to grow every year, but that means returned merchandise does, too.

Because of that, a business once located on Greenleaf Road in the Charleston Neck area recently moved to an expanded site in Ladson for more space.

Amazing Bins, which sells returned e-commerce merchandise for fixed prices, is now in a former 10,980-square-foot industrial flex space at 113 Market Road that’s been fully conditioned to accommodate the growing firm, according to commercial real estate firm NAI Charleston, which handled the lease transaction for property owner Jim Miller.

“The success of their business demanded a centralized location with more space to aid with plans for anticipated growth,” the real estate firm said in a written statement.

Jon Michael Brock of Lee & Associates represented Amazing Bins in the transaction.