Two hotel-anchored downtown Charleston projects clear 1st design hurdle | Business

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Two downtown Charleston development plans anchored by large hotels cleared a key design hurdle last week. 

One near upper King Street and the other across from the historic City Market, both projects call for hotel rooms, residential units and pedestrian pathways.

The first, at 411 Meeting St., is owned by Charleston developer Michael Bennett, who opened his luxury Hotel Bennett several blocks away on Marion Square in January. The new block-long development planned would include a 300-room hotel, a condominium building, loft-style apartments and a ballroom. 

Plans also include a courtyard with seating and show where the Lowcountry Low Line, an urban park planned for a 1.6-mile stretch along the peninsula’s spine, would border the development. 

The lot is empty now but used to house The Courtyards apartment complex. Bennett got city permission to raze the apartments in 2017. 

The parcel backs up to a lot at 82 Mary St. that until recently, was expected to be developed as offices. The property owners recently submitted an application to the city for a 225-room hotel, but the request hasn’t been voted on yet. 

Bennett’s Meeting Street plans first came to the city’s Board of Architectural Review in June, but last Wednesday was the first time the board gave its approval.

Market Hotel conceptual approval

A planned hotel with condominiums, retail and a restaurant across from the historic City Market has received the first of three approvals from the Board of Architectural Review. Provided/Robert A.M. Stern Architects

Separately, a mixed-use project for a parking lot across from the City Market also got its first OK from the BAR at the same meeting. Developers won approval for their plans for a 115-room hotel on the parcel bound by North Market, Church, Pinckney and Anson streets. 

First Baptist Church sold the prime property for $15 million in 2013. Somera Capital Management, which has headquarters in Santa Barbara and Washington, D.C., and Geyer Morris from Atlanta are collaborating on the hotel deal.

Their project has the support of the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, which worked closely with the property owners for about a year to reach a detailed agreement that specifies details including building height, room count and whether or not the hotel will have a rooftop bar — it won’t. 

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Design plans submitted for review last week pointed out updates that responded to the BAR’s comments from a past review, such as cutting three stucco colors to one. 

Updated street-level floor plans show retail areas that surround a courtyard and arcade that pedestrians can walk through. A spa, the hotel’s lobby, a ballroom and a restaurant with a speakeasy are also on the ground floor.  

The second and third floors have hotel rooms, and condominiums are located on the fourth and fifth levels.  

Both the Meeting Street and Market area developments were granted conceptual approval, meaning they’ll need two more rounds of BAR “yes” votes before construction can start. 

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