Midtown Design Plan Tweaked

Residents’ concerns led to change in King Street project

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

By Katy Stech
Of The Post and Courier Staff

Midtown design plan tweaked

The loading dock area proposed as part of the Midtown project in the upper King Street area is probably the least glamorous part of the $150 million development, which will include boutique shops, an upscale hotel and condominiums.

But the industrial-looking truck bays, which were set to be built along Spring Street, attracted a lot of attention from nearby residents who were worried about the traffic and trash the docks could generate.

In response, the developer has submitted a new design plan, which is to be reviewed next week by Charleston’s Board of Architectural Review.

The revisions call for an internalized loading dock system for the ground floor of a new building near Spring and Meeting streets.

The new setup is more expensive, but the president of the lead development company said the cost is worth it.

“It’s good because it answers the question of what the citizenry was asking for, and that was to decrease the amount of openings associated with loading docks,” said Reid Freeman of Atlanta-based Regent Partners.

Local developer Robert Clement III partnered with Freeman on the project, along with Integral Urban Investments, also of Atlanta, and Raleigh-based Cherokee Investment Partners.

The new layout does not change the makeup of Midtown, which calls for 235 luxury hotel rooms, 140 to 205 condos, about 35,000 square feet of retail space and 8,000 square feet of meeting space.

The plans for a building to be built on the Meeting Street side of the 4.2-acre property originally showed three industrial-sized truck bays along Spring Street. They now call for just one opening.

The Midtown project consists of two main buildings, separated by an idle rail line that could one day support a commuter train operation.

The new plans also show more commercial space along Spring Street and additional flair along King Street at the hotel’s proposed entrance.

The changes reflect the concerns developers heard at last month’s BAR meeting, where their plans were rejected.

At the meeting, residents complained that the project didn’t go far enough to create an ambitious and striking presence that would make a visual statement to incoming tourists and residents.

Many who spoke out at the meeting said they wanted to avoid a repeat of the loading dock setup at Charleston Place hotel, which faces Hasell Street. Some residents said that the area teems with trucks during the day and is littered with trash. It also has become a smoke-break area for the hotel’s workers, they said.