Charleston Planning Commission set to discuss new hotel restrictions

Record hotel growth expected in 2017

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The Grand Bohemian Hotel at the corner of Meeting and Wentworth streets - SHELBY DEL VECCHIO
  • Shelby Del Vecchio
  • The Grand Bohemian Hotel at the corner of Meeting and Wentworth streets
With a record-setting year expected for hotel growth on the peninsula, Charleston’s Planning Commission will consider a proposed change to the city’s accommodations zoning this Thursday.

The ordinance, which passed first vote by City Council in late February, would remove 86 properties from the zoning district that allows owners to build hotels on those properties. The special meeting of the Planning Commission will be held at 5 p.m. on March 30 to allow for a public hearing on the proposed changes.

According to the city, removing the more than 80 properties from the accommodations overlay zoning would eliminate approximately 5,000 potential hotel rooms from being developed on the peninsula. A hotel study conducted by the city’s Planning Department presented early last year found that there were 4,930 hotels rooms existing or under construction on the peninsula.

Hotel development downtown experienced a lull between 1999-2012, with only 377 rooms popping up during that drought. Approximately 400 rooms were added to the peninsula in 2015, nearly reaching the record of 440 in 1986. Current projections indicate that long-standing record will be broken this year with 451 new rooms coming on line in 2017.

According to the College of Charleston Office of Tourism, peninsular hotels had an 86 percent occupancy rate last March, a 3 percent increase over the previous year, with demand increasing by 14 percent during that time.

If you’re wondering about the strong appeal of setting up a hotel downtown, the average daily rate for hotels downtown was more than $226 last year. That room rate was $100 more than the average prices in West Ashley and Mt. Pleasant. Revenue per available room on the peninsula reached almost $195 last year, which explains why some property owners might wish to keep their options open when it comes to getting into the hotel business.

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