BAR gives initial nod to 2 new downtown hotels

A rendering of the proposed hotel at 6 Anson St. in downtown Charleston.

Two hotels proposed for peninsular Charleston scored a boost this week after clearing tentative approval under the city’s strict architectural standards.

The Board of Architectural Review gave an initial nod to a new 50-room hotel planned at 6 Anson St., just off North Market Street, where another 50-room lodging is proposed by the same developer, Gramling Brothers Real Estate and Development.

The panel also OK’d preliminary approval for a 100-room, five-story hotel slated for the corner of Calhoun and Concord streets in the mixed-use Gadsdenboro Park development near the South Carolina Aquarium. It’s expected to be part of a new lodging flag launched by Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.

The developer is affiliated with Columbus, Ohio-based private equity firm Rockbridge Capital LLC, which paid $5.75 million for the land in 2015.

As for the Anson Street project, Gramling Brothers hopes to build a luxury boutique hotel on a parking lot between Anson Restaurant and Henry’s Bar and Restaurant, with parking in the rear. Parking there would also serve a 50-room hotel planned for 44-46 N. Market St., where the Rainbow Market now stands.

Two weeks ago, the BAR said Gramling had to keep the 111-year-old building’s facade and incorporate it into the design if it hoped to move forward with the Market Street hotel project.

The construction of one hotel is not dependent on the other, said architect Steve Ramos with LS3P Associates Ltd., who is working with Gramling on the project.

BAR members liked the four-story project and its colonnaded front portico.

“The building itself is a very nice design, and the massing is correct,” said BAR member Janette Alexander.

City planning staff member Dennis Dowd also signed off on the concept, saying the height and mass are appropriate. He was joined by the Historic Charleston Foundation and the Preservation Society of Charleston in lauding the project.

The BAR’s only fault with the design is that the facade is “overly scaled” and “overstated for the setting.” They suggested it be less imposing.

The proposed hotel gained unanimous conceptual approval. It still must clear preliminary and final approval before moving forward.

Over on Calhoun Street, the hotel project is one vote away from final approval. It includes a rooftop bar and pool and a second-floor plaza. Both the BAR and preservationists liked the latest features, though a few structural and cosmetic changes were recommended.

“The improvements have been substantial,” BAR member Jerome Clemons said.

No timetable was given for actual construction to begin on either hotel project. It will depend on how soon final approval is granted, though the Calhoun Street hotel is further along in the city’s review process.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.