Neighbors south of Brede who are upset with Darius Ruckers’ pool house plans | News

An iconic Broad Street house is getting new life after country star and Charleston native Darius Rucker completed extensive interior renovations. But the site’s not-yet-completed exterior upgrades have upset some of his new neighbors.

Some nearby residents are concerned that the size of a proposed pool and two-story pool house will promote a party atmosphere and clash with the historic district’s architectural style.

The current plan also aims to retain a parking area from the large property’s previous use as a church administration building.

“So many spaces are unnecessary and will only encourage large gatherings,” neighbor Carrie Agnew said in a written comment to the Charleston Board of Architectural Review.

“Perhaps this is the intention of the current owners, who are all in different aspects of the entertainment business,” she added.

Rucker, along with contractor John McGrath, bought the house in 2018 for its full list price of $6.25 million, according to the deed filed with the county.

McGrath founded JEM Restaurant Group in 1998. The company has expanded over the past 2½ decades to include more than 100 Pizza Hut and Taco Bell franchise locations in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

Known as the Morton Waring House, located at 119 Broad St., it was built between 1803 and 1807. The exterior marble facade was added over brick in the early 1900s, according to the Charleston Museum.

The main house contains about 8,444 square meters of space. It is located opposite St. John the Baptist Cathedral and was previously used as an administrative building for the church.

The architect behind the renovations and outdoor area plans, Neil Stevenson, pushed back at the narrative that the property will be used as a “party house”.

“He’s gotten some notoriety, but he’s been here two years,” Stevenson said of Rucker at an Aug. 11 board meeting. “He’s a very private person … I don’t see this as a ‘Girls Gone Wild’ party house.”

Stevenson added that Rucker has lived elsewhere in Charleston without any problems.

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Twice since November 2021, the board has delayed plans for the proposed pool and pool house, citing historical inaccuracies and other concerns raised by neighbors about the scale of construction.

The original plan, proposed in November, included a loop of the driveway across the property to create two entrances on Broad Street and a two-story pool house with large columns in front. Revised plans eliminated the second driveway entrance, added a trellis in front of the pool for privacy between the pool and Broad Street, and refined the style of the pool house to more closely match the main house. The proposed pool house is about 1,400 square meters.

The neighbors were still concerned about the size of the pool and the pool house is out of character for the area.

“The proposed pool house building has more square footage than our house,” neighbors Michael and Lara Commers wrote in a joint comment to BAR. “This doesn’t seem logical to us to be classified as a pool house.”

Despite some backlash, Rucker’s work on the house has been celebrated by other locals. The renovations have been detailed in great detail in a television show on The Design Network called “Rucker’s Reno.”

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The show is backed by the South Carolina Department of Tourism and features local restaurants, attractions and other businesses in each episode. Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg was on the final episode during a celebration of the interior work.

Rucker told Architectural Digest that the project was about taking a pre-Civil War home — “something that was once a painful reminder of that history,” and turning it into “a place that people like me can be really proud of of. “

When Stevenson presented updated pool and pool house plans on Aug. 11, the review committee voted to delay approval. It seemed close to approving the plans if some adjustments to building materials and minor design changes can be made.

In a victory for the neighbors, Stevenson agreed to consider making the pool house 1½ stories instead of two stories. A half-story house is shorter because the second floor is located below the slope of the house’s roof.

Although he still has reservations about what the house will be used for, neighbor Larry Wetzel said he thinks the recommendations from BAR are an improvement.

“I think we have a reasonably good chance of getting something that we can all accept,” he said.

It is unclear when BAR will next review the plans for the house.

Reach Emma Whalen at 843-708-5837. Follow her on Twitter @_emma_whalen.

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