Thursday, July 10, 2014
A new $30 million economic development project will bring a hotel, conference center and condos to downtown Summerville.
Summerville Town Council approved the project during its July 9 meeting.
The project is to be a public-private partnership, with the town shouldering the construction costs for the events facility and a parking garage with proceeds from revenue bonds serviced by hospitality taxes. The hotel and condominiums will be paid for by the developer.
The hotel, which will be called The Dorchester, will be a 66-room, four-story building with a rooftop terrace, a restaurant, and retail shops, as well as the conference center.
Residents have long asked for a conference center or events facility of some type in town, as there is no space for large groups to meet.
The town had looked at converting the old National Guard Armory for a while, and the Arts Business Civic Coalition has helped fund studies to look at the prospects for a performance center with conference space.
The plans released Wednesday evening are for a 10,000-square-foot conference and events facility.
Mayor Bill Collins said the entire project will be built on a tract of land the town purchased 10 years ago, and has been vacant, on Cedar Street near West Richardson Avenue. The project is expected to create about 60 jobs and boost tourism downtown.
The town has authorized the mayor to finalize negotiations and execute a public-private partnership agreement between the Town of Summerville, the Summerville Redevelopment Corporation and Applegate & Co. of North Charleston.
“This partnership is one that has been prepared by me and staff, and five attorneys I recall – maybe more – over the past eight months,” Collins said.
A press release from the Town of Summerville states the town will own the events facility and the parking garage but they will be managed under contract.
“These are all parcels of requests that have been brought to the city’s attention during the charrette week and also during my three years in office,” Collins said.
Prior to voting, Councilman Walter Bailey said while he thinks building the hotel is a wonderful project, he expressed concerns over the public/private partnership agreement.
“I believe that the free market works best when the private sector does what the private sector does best and the government, federal, state and local level does what they do best,” he said.
Bailey also has concerns about financial strains that could come if the hotel fails while the town is still tied to the developer, and has concerns about using the hospitality tax money.
“I want the hotel to be here, but I want it be funded with private money and not for the government to be interfering for this amount of money,” he said.
Councilman Bill McIntosh* said he agrees the plans is “spectacular.”
He said he feels it is an appropriate use of hospitality tax revenue to build the conference center and parking garage.
“Having said that, the devil is always in the details and this is an extraordinarily complex agreement,” he said. “We’ve had an opportunity to look at it and give our feedback and I think Councilman Bailey would agree it’s a stronger plan than before we started giving our feedback. I’m really excited about he project.”
Construction is expected to being in spring 2015.
*This article has been corrected. The original article incorrectly attributed this quote to Councilman Bob Jackson. The Journal Scene regrets the error.