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Foundation Matters

HCF Files Appeal Over 252-Room Hotel at 431 Meeting Street

Posted: March 7, 2019

HCF strongly believes that the overwhelming presence of multiple large hotels in the immediate vicinity of 431 Meeting Street – both extant and planned- creates the developing threat of a monoculture of use in this important part of our city. Ordinance section 54-220(b)(1)(f)(6) charges the BZA-Z with considering “the development pattern and predominant land uses within five hundred feet (500′) of the facility” when evaluating applications.  Furthermore, section 54-220 (b)(1)(f)(15) requires the Board to consider whether or not “the location of the proposed facility will contribute to the creation of a diverse mixed-use community.”

In looking at the west side of Meeting Street from Columbus Street, south to Mary Street, there could be an almost continuous wall of hotels with the Elan Apartments being the exception.  The existing Holiday Inn is located to the south of Woolfe Street, its neighbor, the Homewood Suites, is now open, and another large hotel is in the works between Reid and Mary streets.  Additionally, the massive double Hyatt hotel located at Spring and King streets also is close to this site and there are other boutique hotels proposed in the vicinity.

The special exception granted to the proposed hotel at 431 Meeting Street would add a substantial number of hotel rooms to this four-block area.  Historic Charleston Foundation believes that a mixture of uses is necessary to the creation of a healthy community and vibrant atmosphere. We believe that the zoning board could deny this application based on the aforementioned criteria even without the pending ordinance issue.

The time is ripe for the BZA-Z, the Planning Department staff, the City Council and the Mayor to focus serious attention on the proliferation of hotel development and the need for more diverse land uses. Their immediate goal should be thoughtful policy that protects livability and encourages a wider range of uses in this rapidly developing part of the city. Now is the time for these governing bodies to convene to make responsible decisions and to directly address the issue.

Photo: The Post and Courier

13 responses to “HCF Files Appeal Over 252-Room Hotel at 431 Meeting Street”

  1. Judith Beery says:

    I agree and have concerns that the character and distinctive look of Charleston is rapidly approaching the look of Any city USA.

  2. Christine Y says:

    I strongly agree with the HCF and Mr. Hastie’s opinion regarding hotels downtown. The politicians who make these decisions seem to have forgotten about preserving the city’s historic charm. Rows of hotels are not charming. Additionally, when Charleston loses the spotlight as a tourist destination, and that time will come, there will be many empty hotel rooms that will deteriorate and become a blight on the downtown neighborhoods.

  3. Carol Curtis says:

    I believe it is time to act. The proliferation of hotels & the traffic that these hotels bring impact our city & the charm that has for long been so admired. If we don’t act I’m afraid that we will be left with an unsustainable modern urban sprawl.

  4. Commercial over- development is causing the loss of charm & the ambiance of historical richness that brings visitors to the Holy City. The competition (if indeed there is any) for lodging should keep Charleston as a must-see destination. More hotels detract from what visitors come here to see & dilute the quality of Charleston’s lodging offerings.

    The developers of these commercial properties are interested only in the profit they can make at the moment. When they complete the current project they get paid & move on to the next money-maker. It’s what they do for a livelihood.

    Instead of boutique hotels in every available space downtown, why not create pocket parks & green spaces where visitors & residents can stop to savor the history & beauty that surrounds them. They would also serve to help absorb some of the rainwater and aid in the town’s flood abatement. Trees, grass & other foliage also help clean the air. Additionally they add to the European feel that people say they appreciate upon visiting Charleston. That is very quickly changing.

    Stop building hotels & sports bars in downtown Charleston! The quantity vs quality ratio is already skewed.

  5. Joanne Campbell says:

    I wholeheartedly agree. We as residents are being run out of our city by the constant barrage of tourists, tour groups, traffic snarls as we attempt living in these new surroundings. Tourists are not the polite people they used to be, and tour guides are not considerate to residents as they host large groups (sometimes 20+) and block sidewalks and narrow streets. Most residents I come into contact with are expressing serious thoughts of leaving the downtown area. These residents are the permanent ones, not those who purchase a home, spend 2 years remodeling, and then come for a few weeks a year. The community feel and livability is being severely threatened by the drive to make money. Our charming city is just about a thing of the past. .

  6. Anne Capestrain says:

    I absolutely concur with the HCF. Affordable housing in the form of apartments or condos should take higher priority than to continue adding hotels to the peninsula. Where are the service people supposed to live when you are taking every available space on the peninsula to house short-term visitors?

  7. Jean Campbelll says:

    Charleston is rapidly losing its charm. Anyone who has lived here any amount of time would have to to be blind not to see it. One big tall square building after another. Wonder why the water problems are not getting better. Our water permeability ratio has to be getting lower everyday. That’s also another huge issue.
    We have made impossible for our locals that have been on the peninsula to live there any longer. They are our cooks and basket makers. They are what are a very large part of what makes Charleston Charleston.
    I’ve had tourists that have been coming here for years tell me they’ve noticed the huge changes and don’t think they are for the better either. Just becoming another big city like Atlanta. That should be a moment of pause when someone who only visits says that.

  8. Elise Detterbeck says:

    Please consider carefully before you allow yet another huge hotel in this area of the city. We are fast becoming another New York, with high rises everywhere. Every time we look around we see another building spring up out of nowhere. We already have our version of Times Square on upper King, which is verging on out of control. Livability is so important, & that’s why so many people love living in this beautiful city.

  9. Beth Kempe says:

    Please stay vigilant on this. You DO NOT want to end up looking like Orlando! Also your infrastructure cannot handle it especially with the water so close!!

  10. Joanne Turk says:

    The quaint atmosphere of Downtown Charleston is no longer.
    Not only the fact that there are so many large hotels, cruse ships are dropping off thousands of visitor as well at a time.
    I beg that the city government stop the over development of hotels. Consider the home owners that live on the peninsula.
    As was mentioned in a previous reply, we need to consider green space with trees and gardens.
    It is so pleasant to visit Savannah GA.With all the park squares through out the downtown.

  11. Tammy McGee says:

    Amen to all the above!! HCF keep up the good fight. Charleston is rapidly being overtaken by greed and over development that is destroying her charm..
    Tammy McGee

  12. Tom Jordan says:

    From citizens of Georgetown SC. Well said all. We all know there is but one Charleston HCF. Please maintain the good fight from developers who could care less. As several Charlestonians previously mentioned water abatement requires proper attention with smart development.

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