City officials plan to review hotel restrictions next week to ensure the peninsula doesn’t become oversaturated with new lodgings. The Planning Commission will take up the issue June 19.
The chairman of the area’s main tourism agency called the surging hotel activity a positive move, given the city’s rising prominence as a destination for visitors.
“I think it’s good as long as it remains balanced with retail and residential,” said Frank Fredericks, chairman of the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s board and managing director of Wild Dunes Resort on the Isle of Palms. “We need hotels to accommodate visitors with the way the city’s popularity is.”
As for any new restrictions placed on hotel growth, he said, “I’d rather see them put a cap on the total number of hotel rooms rather than limit the number of rooms in one section of the city. The smaller hotels cannot offer all the services of a larger hotel.”
Developers have submitted plans to the city of Charleston for a 170-room, nine-story hotel on a vacant lot at the foot of the Ravenel Bridge.
The unbranded lodging at the juncture of Meeting and Huger streets is the project of Charleston-based Jupiter Holdings LLC and includes a 240-space parking deck.
The 100-foot-tall hotel also will include 30,000 square feet of office space and a 10,000-square-foot rooftop restaurant above parking in the U-shaped building with a central courtyard, according to plans presented to the city.
“We believe this is going to be a great shot in the arm to that area of town,” Fred Whittle of Jupiter Holdings said. “The momentum is picking up.”
The project could take 18 months to build, and Whittle hopes to open the hotel in the spring of 2015. Construction could start this fall after the project goes through the city approval process.
It would be the first new hotel to venture that far north on the peninsula. The high-traffic site is a part of the city that’s suddenly attracting new investment, including the nearby East Central Lofts apartment building on Huger Street.
The plans go before the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals on Tuesday.
Whittle wasn’t ready to announce the hotel brand because final papers haven’t been signed, but he said it’s a national company with one flag for two different types of hotel projects.
It will operate as a separate arm of Jupiter Holdings under Meeting & Huger Place LLC.
Jupiter Holdings also owns the 100-room Comfort Suites hotel on Savannah Highway at Interstate 526 in West Ashley. It operates under Hospitality LLC. Whittle’s business partner Eddie Buck is the registered agent.
The proposed peninsula hotel is among at least a dozen new lodging projects slated to add more than 1,500 rooms for the bustling downtown Charleston market, a 44 percent increase in room volume if all are built.
In 2012, the peninsula averaged 3,370 rooms with a nearly 80 percent occupancy rate, up 2.8 percent over 2011.
Tourism officials and hoteliers alike say the rush to be in downtown Charleston is fueled by high hotel demand and the city’s growing reputation as a visitor destination. Last year, readers of Conde Nast Traveler selected Charleston as the best tourist destination in the world.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.
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