The cluster of hotels planned at the foot of the Ravenel Bridge in Mount Pleasant is starting to sprout.

The first one to open is the Clarion Inn, which replaced the Rodeway Inn motel at 310 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. Both economy-grade hotel brands belong to the Choice Hotels franchise group.

The hotel was renovated with $1 million worth of updates, which included new landscaping and roofing, an expanded lobby and a total redesign of all 117 rooms, owner Vishal Patel said.

"It definitely involved a full gut job. Basically everything in the rooms is new, all the furniture is new," Patel said.

Meanwhile, another hotel development planned across Highway 17 has gained some momentum.

A company formed by Charleston-based Fennell Holdings LLC razed the Grace Chapel church site at 250 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. in September to make way for a new hotel.

The developers recently secured the Staybridge Suites brand for the project, which should break ground by the end of the year if all goes as planned, said Dan Blumenstock, director of operations with Fennell Holdings.

Staybridge Suites is a higher-end brand of extended stay lodging.

The company has not yet drafted a blueprint for the site, but Blumenstock said they're aiming for about 100 rooms.

"A majority of our guests will be there for five nights or longer, so the Waterfront Park and Patriots Point being nearby will be a great amenity," Blumenstock said. "I think that whole area at the foot of the Ravenel Bridge will be very dynamic."

David Tart, a developer with the Hilton Garden Inn hotel rising at 300 Wingo Way, agreed.

"There seems to be a lot of excitement built around what's happening near the bridge," he said.

The six-story hotel rising on the 3.75-acre property includes a 1-acre parcel for a restaurant, which has drawn interest from national and local restaurateurs, Tart said.

Developers demolished the two-story Masters Inn in July to build the Hilton Garden Inn, which will include 133 rooms, a 2,500-square-foot meeting room, an outdoor pool and event spaces.

Construction began several weeks ago and the hotel could open in December, Tart said.

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail