|By Prentiss Findlay, The Post and
Courier, Charleston, S.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 22, 2008 - --A $56 million multi-hotel project being proposed for Mount Pleasant could bring three lodgings with a combined 385 rooms to an area between Patriots Point and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, a developer said Monday.
The first of the hotels -- a six-story, $26 million Marriott SpringHill Suites -- is set to open in the spring of 2010. Plans call for 157 guest suites, 5,000 square feet of meeting space and a rooftop bar, said Sam Fowler, founder and managing member of Fowler Hospitality LLC of Columbia.
"It'll have a nice view of the harbor and the bridge," Fowler said.
He said two other proposed hotels with a total of 228 rooms would be housed in an adjacent seven-story building projected for completion in spring 2011. Fowler has not yet lined up franchise deals for those projects, but said he expects the SpringHill Suites would be the more upscale of the three.
The site of the project is a roughly eight-acre tract on the north side of Patriot's Point Boulevard and east of Wingo Way Extension. The town's Planning Commission is scheduled to consider an "impact assessment" for the development Wednesday.
"We feel like it's a good location. The area is steadily growing. I think with the new bridge being there, it brings Mount Pleasant closer to downtown Charleston," Fowler said.
The six-story SpringHill Suites will have 104,000 square feet of total space, and the seven-story building will have 127,000 gross square feet. The three properties are expected to bring an additional 3,150 daily vehicle trips to the area, according to a Planning Department staff analysis.
Fowler described the onslaught of negative economic news in recent months as "overdramatized," saying it did not shape his decision to go forward with the hotels.
"I take all that with a grain of salt," said Fowler, a College of Charleston graduate. "It's not like the overall economy is in a free fall. I've been through a lot worse in my 30 years in this business. I like to try to be a little more optimistic."
Fowler Hospitality developed the Residence Inn and Spring-Hill Suites on Ripley Point Drive in Charleston. It has since sold the hotels but still operates them, he said.
The company's other lodging properties are in North Charleston, Sumter, Bluffton, Rock Hill and Matthews, N.C. Most are operated as Marriott International Inc. brands, including Courtyard and Fairfield Inn, under franchise agreements with the Bethesda, Md.-based lodging giant.
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