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The design for the proposed 100-unit Hilton Club timeshare at East Bay and Calhoun streets is up for final approval this week. Provided rendering/Garvin Design Group.

Two lodgings proposed for prominent spots on the peninsula will come before the city's Board of Architectural Review this week. 

The 100-unit Hilton Club timeshare development Liberty Place Charleston is up for its final approval. The building would occupy the site of a once-popular but now-closed Starbucks cafe at East Bay and Calhoun streets. 

The project takes its name from the Liberty Tree, which no longer exists but is designated by a historic marker. The spot is where it's believed the Declaration of Independence was first read to South Carolinians. 

The timshare will include studios and one-and-two-bedroom suites, a cafe, a lobby bar and an owners' lounge. Bookings will be reserved for Hilton Club members, but developers have said that the cafe will be open to the public. 

The development won support from the Mazyck Wraggborough Neighborhood Association after it worked with residents to help alleviate concerns about traffic. Strand Capital Group, a North Myrtle Beach-based firm specializing in timeshares and condominiums, is the developer. 

Separately, a hotel-anchored mixed-use plan for the former Bob Ellis shoe store at King and George streets is up for preliminary approval, the second phase in the BAR's three-step approval process. 

The developer's proposal shows retail spaces that face the street, with the boutique lodging's entrance and a cafe behind the storefronts.

The Board of Zoning Appeals specified with its previous approval that two of the units must be used as residential apartments. But with approval for 22 hotel rooms, the building would primarily be filled by guests.

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Preliminary figures show that sales at this year's Southeastern Wildlife Exposition outpaced 2018's record numbers. File/Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

SEWE success

After posting record-breaking numbers last year, Charleston's 37th Southeastern Wildlife Exposition may have surpassed 2018 sales, based on preliminary numbers.

The multi-day not-for-profit event is held annually during President's Day weekend at several downtown venues including Belmond Charleston Place, the Gaillard Center and Marion Square.  

At least 45,000 people attended the events, and advance online and weekend ticket sales were up by about 5 percent. Food and beverage and art sales were also up compared to last year, by 30 percent and 6 percent, respectively. 

Partner organizations, like Audubon South Carolina, which hosted its first SEWE fundraiser this year, also reported "sellout success," said SEWE executive director John Powell

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Next year's event is scheduled for Feb. 14 to 16. 

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Heading to London soon on one of the new British Airways flights? The U.S. Department of State says passport wait times are shorter this time of year. File

Passport, please

For people planning to travel abroad this year, the best time to apply for a passport may be now. According to the U.S. Department of State, February and March are the best months to apply for or renew a U.S. passport. 

And with British Airways service to Charleston International launching April 4, London-bound travelers with passport needs may want to act quickly. 

Processing times are quicker during these months, about three to four weeks for regular service and two to three weeks for expedited service. Regular service usually takes between four and six weeks. 

The Charleston AAA Travel Branch is hosting a "Passport Day" on Wednesday to encourage travelers to take advantage of the shorter wait times. The event, which will be held in partnership with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, will also be an opportunity to register for TSA Pre-Check. The application and screening process allows travelers to use expedited security checkpoints at U.S. airports. 

Travelers whose passports will be valid for six months or less are advised to renew now. Some countries require up to six months of validity or more to enter. 

Reach Emily Williams at 843-937-5553. Follow her on Twitter @emilye_williams.

Emily Williams is a business reporter at The Post and Courier, covering tourism and employment. She also writes the Business Headlines newsletter, which is published twice a week. Before moving to Charleston, her byline appeared in The Boston Globe.