Charleston Regional Business Journal “Urban Pioneers: Edge of downtown gives small accounting firm flexibility” by Ashley Fletcher Frampton

Will Russell doesn’t see himself and his two partners at the Jarrard, Nowell & Russell CPA firm as “bold” or “brave” for locating their office at 975 Morrison Drive.

The building was an office before they moved into it about two years ago, Russell said. And the CPA firm was previously in a nearby office, also on Morrison Drive.

“Bold” and “pioneering,” in Russell’s opinion, would describe the developers who have transformed nearby properties to completely new uses in the past couple of years.

He points to the One Cool Blow mixed-use condominium development; the Taco Boy restaurant on Huger Street; and the Innovation Center, the former Meeting Street mattress factory that the city of Charleston, the Medical University of South Carolina, and the S.C. Research Authority turned into a technology incubator.

But Jarrard, Nowell & Russell were in the Charleston Neck area years before those new projects took shape.

Russell does acknowledge that not many professional service businesses, like law firms and CPA firms, are there. But for Russell and partners Chris Nowell and Bill Jarrard, setting up shop in the Neck area was practical. In 2005, the trio bought out another CPA firm that was located at 1114 Morrison Drive. That firm had been there for more than 20 years, and the new owners didn’t want to change that.

“It’s easy access,” Russell said. “It’s tremendously convenient to I-26 and (U.S. Highway) 17 – not to mention having our own parking.”

The firm needed room to expand its staff in late 2007, and Russell said they did not want to leave the Neck area. The building at 975 Morrison Drive belonged at the time to a client who was looking to sell. After some new paint and carpeting, and the addition of cubicles, the firm was ready to go.

And the office has plenty of room for the firm to expand further in the future, Russell said.

He said Morrison Drive “feels easier than downtown,” where there’s more traffic and tourists and onsite parking is rare.

Owning a building is an option in the Neck area, whereas it would be a much larger investment downtown. That affordability helps the firm keep its rates down, Russell said.

When the firm moved two years ago, several developments were in the works in addition to those Russell cited as pioneers.

“We felt the area was turning around,” he said.

Some of those projects have had setbacks because of the economic slowdown. But the developments that have moved forward are signs that the area will continue to evolve, Russell said.

The area is already full of perks, and Russell sees more of them coming, from future investments in the area and the traffic that would follow.

“More visibility has got to be good for any business,” Russell said.

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