Mayor Tecklenburg Prevails for Residents, Limits Hotel Development

Mayor Tecklenburg Prevails for Residents, Limits Hotel Development

Post and Courier

Charleston gives initial approval to some limitations on hotel development

Mikaela Porter

May 28, 2019

After rejecting several previous proposals to limit hotel development in recent years, Charleston City Council agreed Tuesday to give initial approval to a new approach.

Under the proposed ordinance, hotel developers who strayed from plans approved by the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals could have their Certificate of Occupancy or business licenses revoked, and they also could be subject to fines. While it was given only initial approval, it will take effect Wednesday, pending final approval.

Any hotel development constructed in existing apartment or residential areas must maintain the number of apartments or homes it displaces within a quarter mile of the proposed hotel, said attorney Frances Cantwell. If more than 25 percent of the building had office or retail space over the last seven years, the developer would also be required to maintain that space either on site or nearby, she said.

One of Mayor John Tecklenburg’s biggest concerns about the boom of new hotels downtown is that they are pushing out residences, retail and offices, causing an imbalance.

Under the ordinance, new residential or office hotel-related development also would have to keep with the character of the neighborhood it is built, meaning it must maintain either the rental pricing or market price for owner occupied homes. High end hotels couldn’t be built in lower income areas.

The proposal also looks to limit the number of “full service” hotels to allow four more in the city. City officials said they estimate to have about seven full service hotels in the city currently, so it would cap further full service hotels at 11.

The proposed ordinance also bans rooftop bars. 

Tecklenburg also requested that any new hotel contribute $3.40 for each of its square feet to the city’s affordable housing initiatives. Councilman Mike Seekings asked that language be clarified because as it is written now it is not enforceable. Councilman William Dudley Gregorie said he wants the city’s housing director to be consulted as that language is finalized.

Councilman Harry Griffin requested data on how many hotels this new ordinance would have impact if it had been  in place earlier, and also requested the city’s hotel task force revisit the ban on rooftop bars.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, five speakers urged City Council to approve the proposal; no one spoke against it.

Tecklenburg previously presented City Council with several plans to rein in hotel development, but none won needed support. Earlier suggestions included a one-year moratorium on new projects and the removal of 86 properties from the city’s “overlay” zone where hotels can be built.

After City Council’s vote Tuesday, the city’s Planning Commission will review the proposal and hold a public hearing before City Council takes a final vote.

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