Design changes for The Dorchester hotel win initial OK

The original rendering of The Dorchester, a 66-room boutique hotel planned for Summerville, along with a conference center and parking garage.

Designs for The Dorchester, the controversial boutique hotel project in downtown Summerville, have received preliminary approval from the Board of Architectural Review.

The board voted 5-1 Monday in favor of the plans, which now feature three-story, instead of four-story, condos and a secondary entrance route to relieve traffic congestion.

But some of the changes were made possible by plans to acquire more land - this time a home on West 2nd South Street. Although there was no public comment session Monday, preservationists after the meeting decried the plan to buy the home, which would have to be moved or, if no one will take it, demolished.

One building on the property likely will be moved to become a backyard cottage on a nearby private residence, but there have been no takers for other homes along West Richardson Avenue.

Rich Palmer, the town's building official, said the other buildings are in bad shape. One is beset by mold and has weeds growing in the walls.

The meeting was held in the small training room rather than the larger council chambers. Attendees spilled out the doorway and sat on the floor, and complained that the board was purposely holding the meeting in too small a room because it didn't want public input.

The developer, Applegate & Co., must return to the BAR for final approval.