A city board that recently voted in favor of a major downtown hotel project is scheduled to revisit its decision this week after the Historic Charleston Foundation filed an appeal.
Concern over a proliferation of downtown lodging projects came to the forefront again in February after an application to build a 252-room hotel at Meeting and Woolfe streets was approved by a Charleston zoning appeals board.
Both Historic Charleston and the Preservation Society spoke out against the request, and, shortly after its approval, Mayor John Tecklenburg announced that he would bring another proposal before City Council in April that would seek to rein in hotel development.
The foundation says the presence of both existing and planned hotels around the site "creates the developing threat of a monoculture of use in this important part of our city," according to a post about the appeal on the organization's website.
The lot is across from a Holiday Inn, which neighbors a Homewood Suites. Around the corner and up Spring Street is the dual-branded 304-room Hyatt House and Hyatt Place Hotel on upper King Street. Several boutique hotels with 50 guest rooms or fewer are also planned on King Street.
Historic Charleston previously had noted that a proposed change to the city's accommodations overlay should have prompted officials to reject the hotel plan under what's called a "pending ordinance doctrine."
But that doctrine only applies to ordinances that have been granted a first reading, and the proposal in question was deferred when it was brought to City Council in August.
Still, the foundation maintains that other parts of the city's code, including language that asks the zoning board to consider whether a development "will contribute to the creation of a diverse mixed-use community," warrants a denial regardless of the pending ordinance issue.
The property is still owned by the Charleston School of Law which bought it from the city in 2005. The for-profit school would net millions from a sale, money that it plans to invest in a different site on the peninsula.
According to the agenda, the zoning board will take up Historic Charleston's request at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday on the first floor of the Gaillard Center.
Hotel checks out
Design plans for a new hotel and retail building on King Street earned an early nod — and notable praise — from a detail-oriented city panel last week.
Charleston's Board of Architectural Review gave conceptual approval to the project, which includes two first-floor retail stores and 50 guest rooms divided between the upper floors.
The structure is proposed for the former Dixie Furniture store at 529 King St., across from the shuttered Morris Sokol store, where similar redevelopment plans are in the works.
Representatives from Morris Adjmi Architects, the New York City-based firm that's collaborating with Charleston's LS3P Associates on the project, presented the design Wednesday. They said they drew inspiration from other buildings on King Street, historic structures throughout Charleston and previous jobs in historic Manhattan neighborhoods.
BAR member Jay White said he was impressed with the proposed design, which he described as "incredibly successful."
"I don't think we need to tinker with it," he said.
The applicants also asked for permission to add a half story to the four-level plan, which was granted. The penthouse rooms which would be built for the half level are placed far enough back on the building that they won't be visible from across the street, the board was told.
A small, triangular lot on upper Meeting Street that may be a future hotel development has been sold for $2.15 million to an affiliate of a Charleston hospitality firm.
The seller was MAR Real Estate, which is managed by Mark Richardson, a former co-owner of the Carolina Panthers, according to property records. It had paid $872,085 for the nearly half-acre parcel where Meeting meets Morrison Drive less than two years ago.
The Charleston Planning Commission added the vacant lot to the city's accommodations overlay last fall, allowing a hotel to be built on it.
Sunju Patel, who leads The Montford Group along with Charleston native Jessica Reid, has said they plan to build a flatiron-shaped building on the irregularly shaped parcel, which some have called "The Point."
The firm also plans to open two other hotels on Meeting Street: the Grace Hotel at 510 Meeting and a Moxy Hotel at 547 Meeting.
The latter is a recent addition to Marriott International's collection of brands. It's been billed as an "experiential" lodging that caters to millennial travelers.