Charleston hotel boom seeps over into Mount Pleasant
The bulls in the hotel business have the tourist-soaked Charleston peninsula pretty much staked out.
Now, some of the herd are stampeding to what they hope are green pastures across the harbor.
Mount Pleasant suddenly is flush with lodging projects after a fairly lengthy period of inactivity. The uptick is a bright spot in the recovering commercial real estate business, where much of the post-recession growth had been concentrated in the apartment business.
But not all. The region's lodging stock has been in an expansion mode of late. Most of the attention and money had been focused on downtown Charleston, where more than 1,800 new rooms are either under construction or approved.
It was a matter of time before developers would rediscover the hop-skip-and-jump-away East Cooper market, where more than three years have passed since a new hotel has sprung from the ground.
The time is at hand, it seems.
The town certainly can accommodate a few more rooms, though the ideal balance of supply and demand will be dictated by the turns of the economy and other market forces.
At the moment, business is good. The latest figures show the year-over-year hotel occupancy rate for the Mount Pleasant area, including Daniel Island, jumped more than 5 percent in June to nearly 80 percent.
So it's little wonder that no fewer than four projects that would add a few hundred rooms to the market are either under construction or well along in the planning process. At least two others are in the offing.
The latest wave started with a trickle last year when the owner of the Charleston Harbor Resort at Patriots Point OK'd a plan to add 93 rooms to the 130-room property.
Activity has picked up in 2013.
In May, a group announced plans to replace the shuttered and soon-to-be-leveled 119-room Masters Inn on Wingo Way with a six-story, 133-room Hilton Garden Inn.
Just this month, two more developers entered the fray, well north from the Ravenel Bridge.
In a deal that blends rooms with retail, a group announced plans to build a hotel with an undetermined number of rooms at Mount Pleasant Towne Centre.
The latest deal comes courtesy of Columbia-based IMIC Hotels, an owner and operator with 14 lodgings in five states. It's preparing to start on a seven-story, 119-room Wyndham Garden Inn near where I-526 merges into Chuck Dawley Boulevard.
“You're not limited on hotel rooms in Mount Pleasant, but there's a limited number of new properties. That's why we see a niche there,” said Bert Pooser III, vice president of the company.
Pooser cited the favorable attention that influential publications like Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure have lavished on the area.
“From our standpoint, it's just the market, and how Charleston is ranked nationally and internationally,” he said. “It's just a great market.”
The Wyndham would be one of the few hotels in the town that's not along the newly widened U.S. Highway 17. Even so, Pooser said, the site is still “a very central location” for a hotel looking to capture both business and leisure business.
“You have great access to North Charleston, great access to the beaches,” he said. “And with the Highway 17 improvements, it's really easy to get to downtown Charleston.”
The bonus is that the Wyndham will be built on the site of a defunct down-market lodging: the gritty Fort Moultrie Motel. The low-slung, shuttered eyesore is scheduled to be demolished this week, Pooser said.
“I figure everyone will want to pull up a chair and toast that it's going away,” he said.
Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.