One of the largest recent hotel projects planned for the Charleston peninsula may move one step closer this week to breaking ground.
The 225-room lodging planned just north of Joseph P. Riley Waterfront Park is seeking preliminary approval from the city's Board of Architectural Review.
The waterfront property was the former headquarters for the State Ports Authority, which sold it to Los Angeles-based developer Lowe for $38 million last year. Locally, Lowe also owns Wild Dunes Resort on the Isle of Palms.
Despite the size of the project, its reception locally has been favorable. In addition to accommodations for tourists, the hotel complex will include areas that are open to the public.
Most notably, the project includes plans for an expansion of Waterfront Park that would make an additional 400 feet along Charleston Harbor accessible to visitors. Federal regulators granted approval for the expansion in September, and local officials praised the plan as a step toward better utilizing the city's waterfront real estate for public use.
The hotel's ground floor will feature five retail spaces facing Concord Street and a more than 1,500-square-foot cafe, in addition to the lower lobby, parking and other behind-the-scenes spaces, according to the most recent plans submitted to the city. On the next floor up will be the main lobby, a ballroom, terraces facing the waterfront, a restaurant and guest rooms.
Above that are three other main floors of guest rooms. The third floor includes space for a spa and fitness center. A sixth level features about a dozen guest rooms and several suites, including a more than 1,600-square-foot presidential suite with a view of the harbor. Plans also show a rooftop bar and restaurant.
The project received conceptual approval from the board in December 2017. The hotel also appeared on the agenda for a BAR meeting in mid-June, but the applicant deferred the review.
The board meets on the first floor of the Gaillard Center at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Hospitality and tourism students at the College of Charleston receive some of the best training in their field, according to a ranking released last week by Study.com. The education site ranked the college's program sixth in the nation.
Students in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, which is housed within the School of Business, can pursue a major, minor or concentration in tourism management.
The hospitality and tourism program also operates the Office of Tourism Analysis, which works with Explore Charleston to regularly provide research and metrics for the area's visitor industry, such as a monthly lodging analysis.
Department Chair Wayne Smith said he is proud of the program's rigor which allows the students to "work, study and live the industry 24/7 for their four years" in one of the nation's top tourist destinations.
The rankings were based several factors, including U.S. Department of Education data, coursework offerings and internship and other immersion opportunities.
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania took the top spot. The northern Pennsylvania school offers separate majors for hotel, restaurant and tourism management. Washington State University, which requires 1,000 hours of work in the hospitality industry to graduate, and Stockton University, which has a student-run tourism newsletter, rounded out the top three.
One of Charleston's most popular attractions for little ones is getting a miniature makeover. The Children's Museum of the Lowcountry will be closed for about eight weeks for renovations starting Monday. In the interim, the museum will welcome visitors at a to-be-announced location.
When improvements are complete, the museum facility, which is on Ann Street on the peninsula, will have renovated bathrooms, an encapsulated ceiling and a backyard resurfaced with "play friendly" material. The museum is also removing an about 40-year-old shed and adding new outdoor "mini-exhibits."
The improvements include plumbing and electric work, which necessitates the closure.
The pop-up museum facility will be free for members and reduced price for other visitors. Existing memberships will be extended for the same amount of time that the museum is closed.