Charleston Approves Bond for Market Renovation

November 18, 2010

Investigative Reports

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The NerveCharleston City Council unanimously approved during its Nov. 10 meeting a revenue bond issue to finance the final stage of the renovation of the City Market, in addition to a refinancing of $6.55 million of existing general obligation bonds.

The bond issue for the City Market renovation had been planned for some time and followed on the successful renovation of three of existing buildings.

The proceeds of the new bond issue of $3.4 million will be applied to the renovation of the fourth and final building. The interest and amortization of the bond will be drawn from accommodation tax revenues.

Hank Holliday, principal of the management company, said he was pleased with what had been accomplished at the markets. He said that renovations to date had been accomplished without the loss of any vendors.

He also said that vendors were happy with the renovations and a number of new tenants had agreed to take space in the larger, soon-to-be-renovated fourth building.

Council members who spoke on the bond issue had only praise for the City Market development and for the management team. Accordingly, there was no dissention when it came to approving the bond issue.

There was also agreement on the $6.55 million refinancing of the general obligation bonds.

That was hardly surprising given that the city would be paying much lower rates of interest and therefore be able to achieve substantial savings.

The bonds to be refinanced were issued in 1996, 1998 and 2001, and bear interest at annual rates from 4 percent to 5.4 percent. All mature between 2011 and 2015.

Charleston’s Chief Financial Officer Stephen Bedard did not indicate present interest rates but a presentation by the Charleston Water System during the same meeting indicated how much rates have fallen in the past year or so.

Bedard said the saving to the city in 2011 would be more than $100,000. Presumably the amount would decline in subsequent years as the bonds mature.

Marc Knapp is a contractor specializing in heavy underground utilities and the owner of Charleston Site Utilities.