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