Construction on the third property for the boutique Saint Hotel group is underway in the peninsula's French Quarter district.
Though it will share some themes with other locations under the same flag, the Charleston lodging will have a decidedly different feel from its two other Southeast siblings, said owner D. Mark Wyant.
"Each hotel is directly related to the city that it's in," Wyant said.
The flagship Saint Hotel in New Orleans was built in the century-old former Audubon Building, and before the Key West property became the Saint, it was Southern Cross, one of the city's oldest lodgings. The Charleston property, which is going up on the site of the former Charleston Cooks! culinary store at 194 East Bay St., is the first new build for the brand.
"For that reason, it might be my most important project," said Wyant, who was an American Airlines pilot until 2012, the same year he opened the first Saint Hotel in the Big Easy.
Wyant still flies his own jet between the three properties. It's outfitted with the hotel group's tagline, "Play Naughty, Sleep Saintly."
In his New Orleans hotel, that motto is visible in the interior design, which plays off a theme of good versus evil "in a playful way," Wyant said. Four suites are named after archangels and one, the "Lucifer Suite" is outfitted in red and black, and it comes with an in-suite private stage. The hotel's bar, Burgundy, hosts burlesque shows.
But a look at the offerings of the Louisiana lodging won't give an accurate idea of what Charleston's interpretation will look like, Wyant said. Just as the Key West interiors have a more relaxed, poolside feel than the rooms in New Orleans, the property on East Bay Street will have its own character.
"There will be no burlesque shows or stripper poles in Charleston," he said.
Wyant designs all of the interiors for the hotels with his wife, Lorenda.
In Charleston, their guests can expect blue ceilings, white walls and a bright and airy look, he said. The hotel will have one rooftop suite with a terrace and deck, and the decor and art will be inspired by the city's historic feel.
The building itself will be sitting on a slice of Holy City history, too.
A small section of brick believed to be part of a wall which surrounded the city of Charleston in the early 1700s was recently discovered at the construction site. Wyant, who considers himself a history buff, said he plans to put the find on display in the lobby, possibly sitting on a marble pedestal.
In order to make the exterior of the building more in keeping with historic structures in Charleston, the design was recently changed to add more detail to the ironwork on the guest room balconies. The hotel's architects, Goff D’Antonio Associates, also swapped out stucco for brick on the exterior.
Charleston's Board of Architectural Review, which had already given final approval to the hotel design, OK'd the changes last month.
Wyant had hoped to open in Charleston before the end of the year, he said, but now he's planning to check in the first guests on Valentine's Day 2020. One of the reasons for the delay, he said, was a perennial problem for lodgings and other businesses on the peninsula: parking.
For the 45-room hotel, at least 30 parking spaces are required. But space is tight on the lot, which sits between Carmella's and Slightly North of Broad. That led to a solution that the hotel group says is a first for any U.S. lodging.
They have built and installed an automated "parking stacker" lift system. Developed by Parkmatic, the system can hold up to 27 cars — three layers of vehicles arranged in square grids of nine — and can shift each car individually. Wyant compared the shuffling mechanism to a Rubik's Cube.
Each car in the system will have a code. Whenever a guest needs their vehicle, an employee will enter that code, and the stacker will shift that car into the spot where it can easily be pulled out.
"We're very excited about it," Wyant said. "And who knows, maybe other hotels will see how it works and try the system, too."