Summerville defers plans for new downtown hotel and convention center

Published: Oct. 7, 2014 at 2:34 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 7, 2014 at 1:46 PM EDT
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SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - Monday night, the Summerville Board of Architectural Review decided not to vote on plans for a new $30 million dollar development in the town's historic district.

Residents and board members alike had concerns about whether it was the right fit for the area.

"I was excited," Kelly Hartzel, who owns Eat Sleep Play, down the street from the proposed site. "I think anything that's going to bring more people to the Summerville area, I think it's great."

"It's truly ugly," Heyward Hutson, the president of Summerville's Preservation Society said. "It looks like a prison wall that is four or five stories high, and it's topped off with a flying saucer on top."

Diane Frankenberger has owned a business down the street from the proposed development for 25 years.

"I don't feel it's out of scale," Frankenberger said. "The parking garage is four stories. The businesses on the town square are large and slope back."

The full project as it was proposed would include a 10,000 square foot conference center, a three-story and 66-room hotel, 33-36 condos, and 156 parking garage, restaurants and shops.

The developer would pay $24 million dollars while the city would pay $5.6 million, paid using about 20 percent of its hospitality tax revenue for the next 20 years.

Besides the cost, some are concerned about the trees it would destroy.

"Probably the biggest pine tree in Summerville sits on one of those lots that will be affected," Hutson said. "We have the oldest tree ordinance in the country, Summerville does."

Most of the board members said they were in favor of the idea, just not its design. Some also raised the same traffic and size concerns as residents, saying it was too much building for too small of a lot.

"I think progress is important, but I think it has to be managed and that's really, really tricky," Frankenberger said.

Next the plans can come back at the BAR meeting in November.

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