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Approval Process has Begun for a 130-room Hyatt Place Hotel
to be Built in Columbia, South Carolina's Historic Vista Area

By Clif LeBlanc, The State, Columbia, S.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Dec. 03, 2011--The historic portion of Columbia's Vista is slated to get a six-story Hyatt Place hotel, the third hotel in the core of the entertainment district.

An Atlanta-based developer has begun the approval process for a 130-room hotel facing the 800 block of Gervais Street.

The Hyatt Place would serve visitors to the convention center and fill in a street-front gap on a prime piece of Gervais property -- between the SakiTumi restaurant and bar and Jason's Deli, on land now being used as a parking lot.

A long, 62-space parking lot will sit behind the hotel, stretching to Lady Street. The lot will sit where, about a century ago, a company manufactured and sold gas to city residents. Sidewalks will run the length of the hotel on both sides of the building.

The design of the 83,000-square-foot brick hotel goes before the city's Design/Development Review Commission Thursday.

Efforts Friday to reach developers Noble Investment Group were unsuccessful.

The Noble company has one other Hyatt Place in South Carolina. The 126-room hotel in Greenville is in the city's east side shopping and dining district. The hotel offers complimentary Wi-Fi throughout, and its rooms have 42-inch high-definition TVs.

A Columbia Hyatt Place would join a Hampton Inn and a Hilton Garden Inn in the central historic portion of the Vista, close to the Greater Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Two other hotels are in the larger Vista area along Harden Street closer to I-126.

Current hotel accommodation rates in and around the Vista were not readily available Friday. But city officials have been hoping for another hotel close to the convention center.

The project must be approved by the city's planning commission as well as City Council because its zoning designation is a "planned unit development," said Krista Hampton, Columbia's planning and development director.

That means that height and parking requirements already have been determined for these specific parcels of land, and the hotel plan complies, Hampton said.

The Gervais Street site is where four years ago City Council approved a disputed parking modification for a five-story office and retail project that allowed the developer to proceed even though the building would have 200 fewer parking spaces than city codes require.

Critics at the time said that decision could send a signal to other developers that parking requirements can be negotiated. The Vista Guild merchant group said it would fight future waivers.

The developers, the Miller-Valentine Group, received the waiver for "Center Vista" because the company paid for an expensive environmental cleanup of the site where gas was made from resin, coal, oil, turpentine and other material. It arranged for additional parking spaces at nearby locations. The project was not completed.

Reach LeBlanc at (803) 771-8664.


(c)2011 The State (Columbia, S.C.)

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