For developers such as ourselves, with a passion for historic preservation in Charleston SC, doing what is right is often a delicate balance of what is considered “urban revitalization” and what is, in turn, best for the neighborhood. When we see our colleagues in this space doing both what is good and what is right, it bears sharing these sorts of success stories, and highlighting that there is a common goal among local developers to be good stewards in adding to the fabric of neighborhoods on the downtown Charleston peninsula, instead of taking away. Our friends and colleagues at JJR Development have done just that – been given an opportunity to support and contribute to the vitality of the Cannonborough-Elliottborough neighborhood, and a local business that is a vibrant element of that neighborhood’s core. We share their story here…
“Our company, JJR Development, is at the forefront of urban renewal and preservation in the Historic District working on projects of all types and sizes. Over the last 2 decades, we have strived to reknit neighborhoods and try to provide best in class efforts that we can be proud of. Part of those efforts are the little “vernacular buildings” on Spring, Cannon and Morris Streets – all of which are iconic storefronts.
We just completed full restorations of 92 A and B Spring St., which was owned by the first African American female physician Circa: 1906, and her smaller building erected in the 1920s.
92A & 92B Spring Street, Charleston SC: Circa 1906
59 & 59 1/2 Cannon Street: The Story of Sugar Bakeshop
Just recently, we were offered 59 and 59 1/2 Cannon Street – of which houses the treasured local establishment Sugar Bakeshop. It was restored and put into operation in 2007 by two architect friends of mine, and has been a fixture in the neighborhood since. In patronizing Sugar Bakeshop for over a decade, I was always struck by the happy vibe and smiling bakers creating things from scratch – with the little store being metaphorically out of a time warp. Point being, everyone seemed to leave there with a smile on their face and a few ounces heavier.
The Cannonborough-Elliottborough neighborhood is in the midst of an unprecedented revitalization, and my company has many ongoing efforts as do many friends nearby. The streets are alive and active with pedestrian traffic, and many people I know are calling this exciting neighborhood home. As strictly a real estate developer, I don’t usually stray into other areas, however, the story of Sugar Bakeshop found me open to other possibilities.
When the “baking architects” owned Sugar, they seem to have invented a magic formula for “made from scratch” recipes, smiling, well-treated, happy young employees, and the place just seemed to bring joy to all involved and became an institution. Over the last 4 years, Bill and David, the architects, took many trips (prior to retiring) and Sugar was left in the capable hands of Kat Palmisano, who was the Manager. Then, my friends announced that they’re leaving the lowcountry altogether, to live on their farm in Maine.
I was just so impressed with the job Kat had done for Bill and David, and the place that Sugar Bakeshop held in the neighborhood, I was just compelled to come up with another plan for this beloved local business, instead of close it down upon acquisition and make it into something else. Also, the team Bill, David and Kat had amassed in 7 happy, wonderful employees could not be replicated.
So here’s what we did instead. On July 17th, we quietly completed the acquisition of Sugar Bakeshop and decided to give the reigns to Kat. The “baking architects” took care of their employees well, and when we closed on the deal and handed the reigns to Kat, we wanted to ensure that the staff was well taken care of and agreeable to stay. As everyone in Charleston knows, it is very hard to find employees in the food and beverage business, and Sugar’s employees are the best and happiest. This general atmosphere permeates into the “from scratch products ” that are produced many times a day, all by hand and with no preservatives. Under Kat’s leadership, Sugar has not missed a beat, and Bill and David are writing the Sugar Bakeshop cookbook while up in Maine, and the recipes live on, along with some new ones.
These little “throwback” establishments are few and far between and a the foundational fabric upon which the neighborhood landscape in Charleston was built. We all need to do our best to buy local, and sustain these treasured small “female owned ” enterprises that so mightily contribute to the quality of life to all Charlestonians and visitors alike. Sugar Bakeshop buys everything local, and even gets fresh eggs from a small nearby farm multiple times a week! Those of you who have not visited the shop, please do and you will understand the vibe and “tlc ” that is put into the efforts by this very diverse and talented team. Support for these “homegrown” places ensure vibrancy of our city and help to make it a better place. ”
NOTE: Located at 59 1/2 Cannon Street, Charleston, SC 29403 I encourage you to just stop in as usual, or simply to place an order –
call the shop at 843-579-2891. For larger orders – email email@example.com If anyone needs help with choices or has questions, Kat invites you to call the shop and talk to anyone on staff. Sugar can box things up and wrap the boxes in twine, and write little tags for them if they want it as a gift. It’s nice to call a little ahead of time, to ensure your order is ready exactly when you need it to be.