A high-end hotel and condominium project that is a major part of the redevelopment of the former Ansonborough Fields site near the South Carolina Aquarium moved another step ahead Wednesday.
Charleston's Board of Architectural Review unanimously granted preliminary approval, with some recommendations for changes before the plan returns for final approval.
The development is a rarity in today's real estate market -- a plan to develop condos that will sell for nearly $800 a square foot, while other condo plans have stalled or gone into foreclosure. Many developers have turned condo plans into apartment projects.
The courtyard-style, six-story building will house a 70-room 4-star-quality hotel, about 50 condos, and businesses including a restaurant and spa at Calhoun and Concord streets. Condo owners will be able to pay for hotel services, such as housekeeping.
Members of the BAR were supportive of the building's design, but urged the project architects with LS3P Associates to simplify some of the elements before returning for the final phase of the review process.
Katherine Saunders of the Historic Charleston Foundation offered a similar critique, saying that the plan is moving in the right direction, but described the design elements proposed along Calhoun Street as "a hodgepodge."
One of the development partners is Wally Seinsheimer Jr., who a decade ago developed the One Vendue Range condos along the city's Waterfront Park. He previously described the new plan as "One Vendue Range, on steroids."
As with One Vendue Range, the plan is taking place on land previously owned by the city, and sold for development with many conditions.
The hotel and condos will occupy one corner of a 10-acre site bounded by Calhoun, Concord, Laurens and Washington streets. It was the location of the former Ansonborough Homes low-income housing project, which was flood-damaged by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, then demolished in 1992 because of pollution discovered in the soil.
Environmental remediation work followed, and buildings planned for the site are elevated because of the flood zone.
The city sought to redevelop the site and in 2007 agreed to sell 3.5 acres of the property to East West Cumberland Park Associates, Seinsheimer's group, for $16 million.
The majority of the land, an area roughly the size of Marion Square located in the center of the property, will be a city park.
Plans call for more housing on the south end of the site, along Laurens Street, including an apartment building for senior citizens with modest incomes that the nonprofit Humanities Foundation is expected to build.
The condos are expected to be sold before construction, as condos typically are, early next year, with units ranging from 1,300-square-feet listing for just under $1 million up to enormous 5,000-square-foot penthouse units.
The hotel and condo building, along with an office building that is nearing completion, will line the Calhoun Street side of the site.