From space boots to food stalls

Garco Mill | Photo by the CHStoday team

This is what’s in store for Garco Mill

Last week, we hooked you up with a guide to North Charlestonbut there is one major development that we saved to highlight as its own special featureGarco Mill.

Garco Mill | Photo by the CHStoday team

Shortly after the turn of the twentieth century, if you would have asked any Lowcountry workmen where they clock in + out each day– there is a good chance they would have said the Naval Base or the General Asbestos and Rubber Company, known to locals as GARCO.

While there is a debate in regards to whether the building was constructed in 1901 or 1911, the company became a primary employer in the area + neighborhoods were established throughout North Charleston to house mill workers + their families. And although it changed its name to Raybestos-Manhattan in 1924, the mill + surrounding neighborhood were always called GARCO by area residents.

Now– you may not familiar with the company by name, but perhaps you’re familiar with a small historical event known as the Apollo 11 Mission? For those of you too young to remember watching the event unfold on television, this is when Neil Armstrong was the first human to step the soles of his rubber boots onto the moon. Those rubber soles… you guessed it… were manufactured at Garco. 👨‍🚀🌚

Even with accomplishing space travel, operations came to a close in the 1980’s, and the building + surrounding properties sat untouched for years. However, its history + impact on the neighborhood was not forgotten. The former factory between Virginia + O’Hear Avenues in the Park Circle neighborhood was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017 for its integral part in the Charleston economy, and for providing significant manufacturing needs nationwide.

But where does it currently stand? Since the new millennium, the red brick building + its 40 acres of land have been repeatedly sold + resold to companies with vast visions of development, including: housing, retail space, restaurants, + a park.

Garco Mill | Photo by the CHStoday team

With all that interest, something had to stick– and it did. Soon, we will finally be able to see new life brought to the building in its next development, that’s expected to once again bring growth to the local economy. Coming by spring 2019–the next Garco Mill– a place where you will eat, drink, attend events, shop, + maybe even work.


Garco Mill | Photo by the CHStoday team

Phase one of the project plans began in 2015 with the construction of The Factory at Garcoa multi-family development with 271 housing units along Chateau Avenue.

Phase two now begins with the renovations of the 86,000 square foot factory building.

Garco Mill | Photo by the CHStoday team

Although the building needs extensive work, Garco Mill developers, a group of local investors, and Atlanta-based developers David Cochran + Merritt Lancaster of Paces Properties have planned a two-story space which includes 60,000 square feet of office space along with a 20,000 square foot food hall. Cogswell, who led the redevelopment of the Cigar Factory, is using that blueprint to lead the tax + financing aspects of the Garco project in order to keep the building in as much of its original state as possible.

New York-based Serendipity Labs Coworking plans to occupy 33,000 square feet of the office space. 

The inspiration behind the 18-stall food hall comes from Krog Street Market in Atlanta + will focus on creating opportunities for regional, specialty retailers + restaurants. In addition, Garco Mill will have an outdoor patio with a beer garden, parking, + a one-acre park. There have also been discussions about a future movie theater.

Garco Mill | Photo by the CHStoday team

Currently, the city is investing in the improvement of the streetscape, widening Empire Avenue, + overall preparing for an influx of people to soon frequent the once abandoned block. Construction has already begun, with an estimated completion date of St. Patrick’s Day, 2019.

At this time, vendors for the retail space have not been selected. More information on the food hall + office leasing opportunities can be found here.


Even though it’s taken nearly 30 years for the abandoned building to find new life, I guess we can say it’s doing the as-best-os it can.

As a resident of North Charleston, I am extremely excited about the development + can’t wait to try each + every restaurant coming to the food hall.

What would you like to see at Garco Mill? Let me know in a comment below.