Developers break ground on downtown Charleston luxury hotel

Developers break ground on downtown Charleston luxury hotel

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - After more than 10 years of lawsuits and setbacks, the construction of a luxury hotel in downtown Charleston is finally underway.

Monday, city leaders and developers broke ground on the land next to Marion Square.

"It's obviously a very big day for me and my family to build this magnificent hotel on the same block that my mom and day worked 80 years ago," said Michael Bennett, founder of Bennett Hospitality.

Bennett is a born and raised Charlestonian. He's owned the property next to Marion Square for the last 21 years. For the last 10 years, he has been working to build a luxury hotel on it.

The Charleston County Library moved from the property a decade ago.

Preservationist with the the Charleston Historic Society attempted to stop the construction of Bennett's hotel by filing a lawsuit. Their zoning concerns focused on worries that the size and look of Bennett's hotel would compromise Charleston's historic character.

In 2013, the state supreme court blocked a lower court decision that would have stopped construction and Bennett got the green light to start work on making his vision a reality.

"This is going to be a gorgeous hotel and the perfect use of this site," said Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.

Bennett says Mayor Riley supported the project through it all.

"Withstood lawsuits and went to the supreme court and persevered because it was the right thing to do," said Riley.

Riley says the hotel will further connect Lower King Street to the ever-growing Upper King area.

Bennett hasn't decided on a name for the hotel yet.

At over 200,000 square foot structure will cost $101 million to build.

It'll be eight stories tall with 185 rooms, a rooftop pool and bar, restaurant and ballroom.

It will be made of materials like limestone, marble and copper.

"I drank the Joe Riley Kool-Aid about 37 years ago and his attention to detail is incredible," said Bennett.

Bennett says Riley insisted that what was built here in the heart of the downtown area could stand the test of time.

"The first thing they'll say is 'my god, it looks like its been here for 100 years'," said Bennett. "It's very, very classic architecture."

The project is expected to bring in 350 jobs. It should be done in just over two and a half years.

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