CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A new task force formed by the city of Charleston met for the first time on Friday. The group aims to get a handle on the hotel growth happening on the peninsula.
That growth is something city officials said is taking over.
“We believe we are at or past the tipping point in terms of the number of hotel rooms per resident in our city center to maintain he balance and diversity of a vibrant place,” Jacob Lindsey, Charleston’s Director of Planning, said.
Lindsey said there are nearly 5,000 hotel rooms on the peninsula and as those numbers go up, the number of jobs in that area is going down.
“We have lost over 6,000 jobs between 2005 and 2015 in the 29401 districts,” Lindsey said. “We know we are losing work places in the historic places of downtown and that’s concerning to us because the city center needs to be a place where people live, work, and come to visit.”
The chair of the city’s board of zoning appeals said hotels are a part of that.
“What has happened is we have seen a proliferation of hotels in Charleston,” Leonard Krawcheck said. “We don’t have any digression and what we’ve turned into in terms of hotels, which is unlike anything else we do on the board, is a rubber stamp. We don’t really have any choice.”
Krawcheck said the current city ordinance doesn’t allow them a way to turn a hotel down.
The “Hotel Task Force,” includes city council members as well as representatives from hotels in the area and preservation groups, will work on putting a new ordinance together that will “have some teeth.”
City officials also showed new numbers that give a reality that Charleston could soon have as many hotel rooms per resident as Savannah and New Orleans, both cities that’s downtown area is based on tourism.
“We don’t want to become a tourist hub that just has tourists in the city center and the numbers bear that out in our analysis,” Lindsey said.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg formed the group, which is meant to facilitate the creation of a new proposal to better control the hotel growth on the Charleston peninsula.
The goal of the group is to have their recommendations to the Charleston City Council by their May 28, 2019, meeting.