Board of Architectural Review defers final approval for Courier Square (copy)

Courier Square is going up at the corner of Meeting and Columbus streets.

In his efforts to get the “new” American Health Care Act passed, President Donald Trump had started to talk like a politician. Yes, he’d always been a deal-maker and has the decisive mentality of a CEO, and ironically enough it was his “drain the swamp” and anti-politics as usual rhetoric that helped get him elected. But, as he has perhaps started to realize, the art of deal making and the art of politicking may be somewhat mutually exclusive.

Perhaps that’s why he made the insinuation earlier this month that those Republicans not supporting his health care bill ought to start looking for new jobs, because they’re going to get booted out of Congress. You’d better behave, he’s saying in effect, or I’ll raise money for opposition candidates to run against you, win, and who would then play the game my way. (We’ll see what happens now that the House bill to replace Obamacare has been withdrawn.)

I couldn’t help thinking of Mayor John Tecklenburg’s dealings with his City Council in the above context after reading numerous news stories, editorials and letters to the editor about the matter of hotel over-development and saturation on the lower peninsula.

Although news stories per se are objective, the subjective opinions of most letter writers and the editorial content on the opinion page generally raise serious concerns about the growing pox of hotel infestation that threatens livability, convenience, ambience and that “feeling” of something special that we have here in Charleston.

Yes, it’s a tired argument that seems to have gone on forever, but the warning signs appear to be coalescing into a manifest problem. According to a recent editorial in the P & C, planners comparing Charleston to other cities struggling with the same problem have concluded that Charleston has already reached its limit of what should be an optimal number of available hotel rooms.

But you can’t convince developers of that nor, as the Mayor has found out, certain members of City Council. A plan to put at least a temporary moratorium on new hotels that would have been presented by the Mayor and his city planners a year ago was withdrawn before serious deliberation because it was clear that council would have none of it. A second proposal got nowhere.

According to the editorial, city officials are now considering yet another plan that would remove 86 properties from the accommodations overlay zone — the only part of the peninsula where hotels may be built —with further consideration of adding a few properties to the overlay zone.

So we’ll see where this goes. Of course it’s all about balance, and there are some who may think what The Post and Courier parent company (Evening Post Industries) is building on Columbus Street is lacking same (although hopefully the final product will be a net plus — if not a huge net plus.) But if council is intransigent and will not even acknowledge that there are scientific and just plain obvious indicators of impending hotel over-abundance, then I’d say it would be appropriate to rally behind the Mayor and help in whatever manner would be needed to get the attention of those who, for whatever reason, are not willing or able to grasp the bigger picture.

Although we’re not under attack per se and it’s clearly not a valid comparison, I’m reminded of Big Papi’s (David Ortiz’s) extemporaneous remarks at Fenway Park to rally the spirit of Boston after the 2013 marathon bombings.

“All right, Boston,” Big Papi said, clapping his hands. “This jersey that we wear today, it doesn’t say ‘Red Sox.’ It says ‘Boston.’

“…This is our %$&*!!! city! And nobody’s going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.”

Substitute a word here and there and suddenly you have mission statement. Now that Ortiz is retired and perhaps looking for something to do, let’s bring him to Charleston!


The spring Tea Room season is getting under way at various historic churches on the peninsula, and members of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church on Church Street will have theirs all next week from 11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. daily. Tea room luncheons, no matter where they are, are always fun. The food is great, the atmosphere comfortable and beautiful and the money raised goes to worthy causes.

So if you’d like some of the best okra soup, salads and desserts in town — served by some very nice volunteers — head over to the St. Philip’s Parish Hall at 142 Church St. next week, sit down and enjoy.

Full disclosure: I do happen to attend St.Philip’s which, by the way, is part of the Gamecock Diocese.

Edward M. Gilbreth is a Charleston physician. Reach him at

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