As a Charleston task force is working on revising the city's hotel rules, three new lodging projects that would add another 367 rooms to the mix will be up for approval from a zoning board this week.
One of the deals shares similarities with other proposed hotels nearby, but the other two are aiming to push the downtown industry's boundaries north by redeveloping a pair of idle properties on upper Meeting Street.
The more conventional of the three is a 45-room hotel proposed for 502 King St., which now houses a Starbucks cafe on the ground floor and offices upstairs.
Few details were available about the project last week, but it's one of at least three new lodgings planned for the immediate vicinity. It would go across from a future 50-room boutique hotel and down the street from a planned 22-room lodging.
Another developer is looking to invest in a largely untested area for the hotel trade: upper Meeting Street.
The Montford Group believes it's an ideal location — walking distance from breweries and restaurants but far enough away from the higher concentrations of competing properties along King Street or near the City Market.
"We want to be the first in hospitality in this area," said Sunju Patel, managing partner for the Charleston-based development group.
One of Montford's projects is planned for 547 Meeting, now the site of a one-story warehouse between E and Walnut streets. The group wants to replace the vacant low-slung structure with a six-story, 131-unit hotel that will target young, budget-conscious travelers.
It would be branded under Marriott's lifestyle flag Moxy Hotels, which the global hotel giant describes as its "newest and edgiest affordable brand."
Small rooms, neon accents and large, multi-use public spaces are common traits among the roughly 40 Moxy properties that have opened worldwide. So far, Moxy Hotels are open in just 10 U.S. cities — including New York City, Chicago, Atlanta and New Orleans — with the majority in international destinations.
The rooms would measure about 200 square feet, and they would be priced lower than most of the competing product on the peninsula, Patel said.
One of the property's defining characteristics would be its top level, which would have the amenity spaces typically found downstairs. Instead of serving as the lobby, the first floor would include some type of retail offering that would be open to the public, Patel said. The check-in desks, common area and bar would all be on the sixth floor.
Montford's other planned hotel project is even farther up the peninsula, at 810 Meeting St., which an affiliated company recently purchased for $2.5 million. It would be the group's "flagship," and it would include a restaurant and rooftop bar, Patel said.
The plan calls for a wedge-shaped 8½-story building that would fit the contours of the triangular lot, which is at the intersection of Mount Pleasant and Meeting Streets and Morrison Drive. The design style is often referred to as a "flatiron," after the famous Flatiron Building in New York City.
Patel said he sees the now-scruffy spot as a future "gateway" for downtown Charleston.
The 191-room hotel would be at a higher price point than the Moxy, Patel said, with a focus on "luxury that's more casual" than what guests might find at high-end properties farther downtown.
The surrounding area, though already home to restaurants and breweries, is still an outlier for the lodging business.
But the idea of building hotels in unconventional locations could gain more followers as preservation groups and officials fret over what's been called an "overconcentration" of guest rooms elsewhere in the city.
In addition to strengthening the special exception criteria that the zoning board uses to review hotel plans, some members of the task force have suggested going over every parcel where hotels are allowed on the peninsula to determine which areas could benefit from a hotel or two.
Neither 547 nor 810 Meeting were part of the accommodations overlay zone until last year, when the Planning Commission and City Council approved the changes.