As Charleston continues to boom and rents downtown are skyrocketing faster than you can say “Upper King,” Lucas Morrison has been smartly buying up houses on the east side, renovating them, and renting them out, bringing a dilapidated historic neighborhood back to life.
"People used to call me crazy on a daily basis," he says, "and say that the area is never going to change, but I saw what happened in Elliotborough and I knew it was going to happen here." He has both changed the naysayers' minds and the character of the whole neighborhood house by house.
Lucas, who by day works with Luxury Simplified Group, bought his first ramshackle (but designated historic) house on Line Street eight years ago while a senior at the College of Charleston. He has continued to buy up properties with entrepreneurial zeal ever since. As a licensed general contractor, he works with the notoriously picky Board of Architectural Review and gets houses that otherwise would sit in disrepair into shape, single-pane windows, custom-milled wood and all. Now the neighborhood on Line Street and just to the south has become desirable and is perhaps the last affordable place to live downtown for students, artists and musicians.
He shatters every preconceived notion one might have about housing guys, riding his bike for transportation around the lower peninsula and ruminating over coffee about a future for Charleston that includes light rail, "so that people can commute without causing more congestion downtown." Adamant about using green principles that just make sense to him, he says, "We need to stop building more parking garages and transition to pedestrian streets and a bike-friendly downtown."
Most impressive feat? He built himself a 500-square-foot carriage house to live in, with a garden.
Words by: Dee Dee Arthur
Photography by: Mark Pelekakis