Hood Construction is as adaptive as the historic structures it renovates
By Richard Breen
A reporter reaches out to developer Hank Holliday. Is he available to talk about Mark Hood and Hood Construction Inc., which worked with him on several landmark Charleston projects?
Holliday responds quickly.
“You’re writing an article about a really wonderful guy,” he says.
A call goes out to Columbia architect Scott Garvin of Garvin Design Group, and the response is similar.
“Mark’s a longtime friend of mine and I have the utmost respect and trust for him,” he says. “They’re fun to work with.”
After 33 years in business, privately held Hood Construction has built a wide-ranging portfolio that covers everything from college sorority houses to corporate headquarters and distribution centers. Nearly half its work comes in the healthcare sector.
Some of Hood’s biggest fans, however, come from one of construction’s trickiest niches—adaptive reuse.
While adaptive reuse often involves historic buildings, the category is broader. Former supermarkets and multiplex theaters have been transformed into churches and storage facilities around South Carolina. Hood once converted a Columbia church into a Gold’s Gym.
“No two adaptive reuse projects are alike,” Hood says. “You have to work within the original building’s parameters regarding footprint, floor-to-floor heights, etc. while creatively utilizing the structure, optimizing its full potential toward the newly intended investment. It’s a significant challenge to work with adaptive reuse programming, but that’s what makes it exciting—seeing the complete transformation come together.”
The challenge rises when a historic building is involved. Legal and tax specialists, state agencies, and local preservation groups join the fray along with the usual designers, developers, engineers, and contractors.
“We had all kinds of arcane environmental requirements,” Holliday recalls of one project Hood worked on for him.
Among Holliday and Hood’s collaborations are the Peninsula Grill (opened in 1997 after renovating a circa 1844 building) and Hank’s Seafood Restaurant (opened the following year in a circa 1900 warehouse).
“They’re still arguably the two most popular restaurants in downtown Charleston,” Holliday says.
When work started on Hank’s, the building was in a state of significant disrepair, according to Margaret Colquitt, a vice president with Hood.
“The exterior walls were literally bowing out,” she says.
While a building may need to be repaired, it can’t be done so in a way that compromises its historical integrity.
“We employ about 65 field craftsmen,” Colquitt says. “In today’s world, most construction management firms serve as construction brokers, without actually performing any of the work in-house. But, we find our self-performance ability—coupled with the expertise of our subcontractors—allows us to be very nimble in achieving our client’s goals. This is especially true when working with historic structures and adaptive reuse.”
Holliday sees how it impacts the bottom line.
“On time and on budget,” he says. “All things considered, he’s the best contractor I’ve worked with in my 40-year career.”
Hood Construction has worked on historic renovations across South Carolina. At Clemson University, it converted the Sheep Barn, a 1904 structure that was one of the oldest agricultural buildings on campus, into a student center. For that, Hood earned a Construction Excellence Award from Carolinas AGC.
In the Midlands, it received the Historic Columbia Foundation’s Award for Adaptive Reuse for renovating the former Adluh Flour warehouse. The two-story, circa 1910 structure is now a mixed-use development that includes offices and a restaurant.
The Brennen Building, on Main Street just north of the Statehouse, was one of the first downtown buildings constructed after the Civil War. Hood helped restore the building to its original French Victorian qualities, which now serves as an office/restaurant development that features Bourbon restaurant.
“I got my degree in historic preservation of architecture, and they did a stellar job on the building, in my opinion,” says Bourbon owner Kristian Niemi. “I’m lucky to have been able to open Bourbon in it.”
A few blocks up Main Street from Bourbon is the new Hendrix restaurant, located inside a building that also dates back to just after the Civil War.
“It was originally operated as Hendrix Grocery Store,” says Garvin, a majority owner in the building and the renovation project’s designer. The project included creating a rooftop bar for Hendrix and opening a basement space for outdoor seating to accommodate a future tenant.
Garvin estimates he’s done approximately 50 projects of all types with Hood, including the offices for his own firm.
“We have done so many of these together, we have an understanding and a respect and a synergy,” Garvin says. In historic renovation, “when you start uncovering layers, you just have to react on a daily basis. We think we’re good at that, and they’re good at that.”