Another hotel in the Charleston City Market has been approved after the developers convinced a board that it won’t significantly add traffic to a nearby neighborhood.
The Charleston Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously agreed this week to allow a 50-room hotel that includes the former Wild Wing Cafe building on North Market Street and the site of the former Molly Darcy's Irish Pub on East Bay Street. The board deferred the request in January because of traffic concerns.
The developer, Apex Real Property, changed the plans in an effort to keep traffic from going north on Anson Street into the neighborhood near the Gaillard Center. The new plan eliminates 5,000 square feet of restaurant space and moves the valet service from North Market to Guignard Street. Cars exiting the garage will be facing East Bay and instructed not to turn around toward Anson.
"We absolutely don’t want cars going left out of the garage," James Wilson, an attorney representing the developer, told the board. "We’re happy to create a mechanism to force cars to turn right."
The plans include hotel rooms and restaurant, conference and parking space in the former Wild Wing building at 36 N. Market, the parking lot at 5 Guignard St., and the site of the former Molly Darcy's restaurant at 235 East Bay St. The vacant Wild Wing building would be preserved and the former pub demolished.
A special exception from the city is needed for new hotels in that area. The exception can only be granted if the hotel would not "significantly increase automobile traffic in a residential neighborhood," according to the ordinance.
The 50 hotel rooms would generate 408 daily car trips, according to a study by traffic consultant Jennifer Bihl. Eliminating 5,000 square feet of restaurant space will cut out 636 daily trips.
"We have eliminated more traffic than we have added," Wilson said.
Zoning administrator Lee Batchelder recommended approval. He also said he received a letter of opposition from the president of the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association.
Several residents and an attorney for a nearby property owner also said they were concerned about the extra traffic.
A representative of the Preservation Society of Charleston thanked the developer for agreeing to move the hotel back from East Bay to minimize its impact but the group still opposed the project.
"We still feel this hotel will have considerable impact, noise and congestion on the neighborhood," Tim Condo, the society’s manager of preservation initiatives, told the board. "We are frustrated and fatigued with these continuous hotel proposals when you don’t have the adequate tools to assess them."
Two other hotels near this one have already been approved. Gramling Brothers plans to build a 50-room hotel in the Rainbow Market building at 40 N. Market and another in the parking lot around the corner at 6 Anson St.
Board members said they had to approve the Apex project because they heard no evidence it would significantly add to the traffic in Ansonborough.