Dual-branded Hyatt now open!

Post and Courier
Sep 24 2015 6:10 pm
By Allison Prang

It’s the first of its kind for Charleston.

The city’s hospitality industry on Thursday welcomed its first “dual-branded” hotel, a growing trend within the lodging industry.

The occasion also marked the return of the Hyatt flag to the Charleston area.

Officials untied a ribbon to kick off the official opening of Hyatt Place and the adjoining Hyatt House at the Midtown site near King and Spring streets.

“The idea of the two paired hotels, each with a slightly different marketing or accommodations plan, added wonderful additional diversity,” Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said after the event Thursday.

The hotels have separate lobbies and offer different types of rooms at different rates. Hyatt Place has 191 conventional rooms, while the pricier Hyatt House has 113 units with multiple bedrooms and kitchen areas. The properties share a pool and a fitness area.

“For us, for visitors, having the two products together is magic,” said Helen Hill, president of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

She also said the hotels will bring more visitors to the booming Upper King area.

“For us, it’s really important because it gives us another anchor on a main thoroughfare,” Hill said.

The newly opened hotels bring the Hyatt flag back to Charleston. Previously, the chain constructed what is now the Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel on Meeting Street, Hill said.

“It’s fun to have them back,” she said.

For Hyatt, it’s the first time the Chicago-based chain has combined these two specific flags on the same site, said Pedro Perez, general manager of the Charleston properties.

“We’re definitely going to learn a lot from opening these hotels,” he said.

Other chains are buying into the two-for-one concept, partly to offset rising land and construction costs in urban areas. For example, Marriott stacked a Residence Inn atop a Courtyard by Marriott in New York City earlier this year. Hilton has about 15 dual-branded lodgings in North America, and Hyatt has other deals in the works, according to a report this year in the New York Times.

The Charleston project, which includes a 405-space parking garage, took about two years to complete and cost about $80 million.

“To watch this project come from a hole in the ground to this magnificent building is just amazing,” said Rachel Frost, sales director for Hyatt House.

“My general manager has opened eight hotels. And this is my first,” Frost said. “And people say it is an addicting process, and I understand that, but … I’m so excited to actually now be a part of a hotel.”


$80 million Midtown project to wrap up by end of September

Warren L. Wise Post and Courier

Sep 6 2015 12:01 am



The dual-branded Hyatt hotels at Spring and King streets are now accepting guests for mid-October though they could open earlier as construction winds down on the Midtown project. The complex includes retail and office space on King Street.

One of the most anticipated downtown Charleston development projects in years soon will be completed.

Nearly two years after construction started, work on the $80 million Midtown hotel, retail and office complex will end in late September, providing a northern anchor to the booming King Street business district.

The nine-story structure includes two hotels; an eight-level, 405-space parking deck; and buildings for shops, restaurants and offices. In all, 433,000 square feet is being added at King and Spring streets.

“We are wrapping up construction soon,” said Stuart Coleman with CC&T Real Estate of Charleston, a partner in the Midtown project.

The hotels are completed and exterior work on some additional buildings on King Street will be completed by the end of the month, said Tom Rhyne, senior superintendent with DPR/Hardin construction firm of Atlanta.

Construction on the Midtown project in downtown Charleston is expected to wind down by the end of September.

The dual-branded Hyatt Hotels will open first, followed later by the commercial areas of the project, Coleman said.

Hyatt’s website says the new lodgings are accepting reservations starting Oct. 17, but it could open earlier depending on last-minute construction, Coleman said.

“We are still targeting late September or early October for the opening,” hotel spokeswoman Diana Barton said.

Hyatt House will consist of 113 suites overlooking Spring Street. Hyatt Place, 191 standard hotel rooms, will open next to the railroad bed behind Elan Midtown apartments.

The hotel ballroom will sit at the corner of Spring and King streets above an as-yet unannounced new restaurant.

The King Street property includes eight commercial tenants. One of those is The Ordinary restaurant, which opened before construction began in September 2013. Others have not been announced, including the historic building fronting on King Street that was spared.

“We have one lease signed and a couple of letters of intent,” Coleman said. “We want the right kind of retail for that area.”

Last winter, project officials said the development would be completed in the spring with bookings by mid-summer, but work on new commercial buildings along King Street delayed the opening of the hotels because Hyatt officials didn’t want guests to encounter unfinished buildings upon arrival, according to a former project manager.

When the project does open, it will include a rooftop bar above Hyatt House. A separate elevator lobby from the hotel will provide access. Patrons can enter through a pedestrian walkway off King Street or through a courtyard.

“You won’t be walking through the hotel lobby to get to the rooftop,” Coleman said.

The parking deck, when completed, will be bought by the city. It will be available for hotel patrons, retail and office personnel and the general public for a fee like other parking garages at Charleston Place or the Francis Marion Hotel.

SC Ports announce huge container volume growth

SC Ports Announces 14% Container Volume Growth

Breakbulk tonnage exceeds plans by 6 percent; Inland Port achieves record rail moves

CHARLESTON, SC – Container volumes increased 14 percent during SC Ports Authority’s 2015 fiscal year, building upon several previous years of above-market growth with strength across all business segments.

“2015 was a memorable year for SC Ports Authority,” said SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome. “We reached near-record levels of containerized cargo and saw strong volume and good diversification of the breakbulk sector. From an operations perspective, highlights of this year include handling the highest ever month of pier containers in May and Inland Port rail moves in June, all while delivering high reliability and logistics efficiencies for our customers.”

SCPA handled 1.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) during the fiscal year that ended June 30, a jump of 231,473 TEUs from the 2014 fiscal year. June volumes provided a strong finish to FY2015 with 169,913 TEUs moved during the month.

Pier containers, or box volume, also climbed 14 percent in FY2015 with 138,221 more boxes handled compared to FY2014. SCPA moved 96,916 boxes in June, pushing total fiscal year volume to 1.1 million containers.

“I’m extremely proud of the significant growth we achieved this fiscal year,” said Bill Stern, SCPA Board Chairman. “The SCPA’s continued success is rooted in the leadership of our strong Board, a talented CEO and senior staff, and support from a productive maritime community.”

Strong fundamentals played a key role in the above-market growth of SCPA’s containerized cargo segment. Amidst progress of the Panama Canal expansion and the Bayonne Bridge raising, big ships have transitioned to East Coast trade routes, and SCPA currently receives 11 post-Panamax vessel calls each week. Manufacturing in the Southeast remains strong, and SCPA provides the deep water required to handle ships fully-loaded with heavy exports. The booming automotive sector in the Southeast also supported both import and export volume gains.

Successful recruitment of discretionary cargo played a key role in SCPA’s above-market growth as well. A competitive, broad-based rail market with ample capacity has made SCPA the port of choice for cargo produced beyond the Southeast region, including plastics from the US Gulf and agricultural products from the Midwest. Volume gains of agricultural exports were also driven by local industries such as SC-grown soybeans, whose export volume doubled during the last fiscal year.

“Fiscal year 2015 was marked by a number of exciting economic development announcements representing future volume opportunities for SCPA, including Daimler, Kent Bicycle, Volvo, and most recently, Dollar Tree,” Newsome said. “The port’s ability to serve these companies’ supply chains played a key role in their decision to locate or expand in SC. Our strategic initiative to grow our cargo base is paying off.”

In the non-containerized cargo segment, breakbulk tonnage exceeded fiscal year planned volumes by 6 percent with 1.4 million pier tons handled during the year. Georgetown moved 548,933 tons during the period, while Charleston handled 871,974 tons. Roll-on/roll-off cargo within the breakbulk sector grew significantly, and SCPA achieved the highest finished vehicle volume ever handled at the Columbus Street Terminal. In FY2015, 253,338 vehicles moved across SCPA docks, an increase of 15 percent over the previous record of 219,900 vehicles in FY2008.

Monthly volumes peaked at the Inland Port in June, with 6,736 rail moves handled during the month. The terminal’s first full fiscal year of operations concluded with 58,407 rail moves, which surpasses initial annual volumes projected five years into terminal operations.

In the fiscal year ahead, SCPA expects to continue to grow above the US port market average and focus on increasing revenues to fund its capital projects, including the construction of the Navy Base container terminal by the end of the decade. FY2016 will also be a significant year for deepening the Charleston Harbor to 52 feet, with the Chief’s Report expected in September while the Preconstruction Engineering and Design phase is ongoing, followed by construction.

SC Ports Logo

176 Concord Street, P.O. Box 22287, Charleston, SC 29413-2287
Contact: Erin Dhand, Public Relations Manager
Telephone: 843-577-8121 • Fax: 843-577-8127 • e-mail: EDhand@scspa.com

Digital Corridor receives approval for Flagship3 plans

The BAR gave conceptual approval to the design of Flagship3, which will be located right at the entrance to our Laurel Island property! We love seeing the growth of the tech industry in our backyard.


The Board of Architectural Review gave conceptual approval to the Flagship3 designs. (Rendering/Rush Dixon Architect)
(Rendering/Rush Dixon Architect)

By Liz Segrist
Published Sept. 11, 2014

The Charleston Digital Corridor’s Flagship3 development is headed toward final approval following a vote Wednesday by the city’s Board of Architectural Review.

The board approved the conceptual designs of the four-story, mixed-use building planned for 999 Morrison Drive in downtown Charleston.

The newest flagship space would offer offices for startups similar to Flagship1 and Flagship2; it would also offer some longer-term space for more established, high-growth companies with up to 50 employees, according to Ernest Andrade, the corridor’s executive director.

Andrade expects the project to be fully financed by local tech entrepreneurs and tech companies. He expects construction to begin this fall.

Flagship3 will be around 45,000 square feet, more than twice the combined size of Flagships 1 and 2, along Calhoun and Alexander streets.

Rush Dixon of Rush Dixon Architect presented the design plans for the Flagship3 to the board. Dixon pointed out design changes based on the board’s prior recommendations, including a more simplified roof layout and elements more similar to Charleston’s architecture and style.

For the entryway, Dixon took inspiration from unique corner entrances on buildings around Charleston. He also worked to include designs that emulate “technology and energy in motion.”

The board debated the materials that would be used and the use of vertical windows. Several board members spoke in favor of the design changes, noting that the building needs a few more minor tweaks before final approval.

“You came a long way by simplifying concepts but keeping true to your ideas and original concept,” board member Janette Alexander said. “The look is much more palpable and cleaner now.”

Rush Dixon representatives will take the board’s comments and make further revisions before going back to the board for preliminary and final approvals. The Digital Corridor is also working on the design for the parking garage as well as financing for the project.

The Flagship3 and an adjoining parking lot will be the anchor tenant for the city of Charleston’s planned 10-acre Charleston Innovation District along Morrison Drive. The city and the corridor want to create a place for tech companies and startups to cluster in high-density, mixed-use developments.

The tech district includes 999 and 995 Morrison DriveCharleston County owns 995 Morrison Drive and houses administrative buildings there.

Charleston City Council voted unanimously in July to allow buildings up to 85 feet in the tech overlay district. This vote increased the previous height restriction of 55 feet to accommodate the 76-foot tall Flagship3.

The city is also working on a new master plan for about 860 acres north of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge to accommodate a growing population. In addition to the tech district, plans call for a mix of housing options at different price points, mixed-use developments, office space, public transit, more bike lanes and parks.

Andrade said the city’s passage of the tech overlay district and height allowance show “a public-private partnership at its best.”

“There is a lot of work ahead, but today, the BAR affirmed that we will lead the creation of a 21st-century district of ‘modern architecture’ to complement the city’s historic core while accelerating Charleston’s high-wage, tech community,” Ernest said in an email after the meeting.

Charleston Hotel Industry Continues to Succeed

Great news for Charleston’s hotel industry! Thank you to the Charleston Visitors Bureau for sending us this report.

Rennaissance Charleston 2

Impressive Year-to-Date Hotel Numbers

August has historically seen visitation drop off noticeably around the middle of the month.  This decrease has generally coincided with school start dates across South Carolina and our adjacent states.  This year we did not see the decrease that we’ve come to expect, which resulted in a very strong August and equally impressive year-to-date numbers. In fact, Charleston County hotels sold approximately 18,500 more roomnights in August 2014 than in August 2013!


Every submarket saw increases in room nights sold, occupancy, ADR and RevPAR.  The county realized a 5.4% increase in room nights sold, which netted a 5.2% increase in occupancy of 76.4%.  The average daily rate increased by 8.9% to $134.10, while RevPAR increased an impressive 14.5% to $102.48.  The Charleston and North Charleston submarkets enjoyed double digit percentage growth in room nights sold, while East of the Cooper turned in a fourth consecutive month of double digit growth in ADR.


Year to date, countywide room nights sold are up 4.2%, occupancy is up 4.1% (76.9%) and the ADR is up 6.4% to $137.02.  This yielded an impressive 10.8% increase in RevPAR of $106.75.  Charleston County has now had year-over-year ADR increases for 44 consecutive months and RevPAR increases for 25 out of the last 26 months.

County chooses Neck area for skatepark

County settles on Neck area property for long-delayed skatepark

Aug 19 2014 6:47 pm

By Brenda Rindge, Post & Courier

After searching for five years for the perfect site for a skatepark in the Charleston Neck area, the county Park and Recreation Commission has settled on the location it wanted all along – a 25-acre property on Oceanic Street.

The long-delayed park could open sometime in 2015 at 1593 Oceanic Street, which has 3 1/2 acres of upland nestled between Interstate 26 and the Ashley River marsh.

“The one question everybody asks is, ‘When am I going to skate?'” said county parks Executive Director Tom O’Rourke. “The answer is, I don’t know. It’s going to take less than a couple years and a little more than a year.”

The commission has wanted to build the skatepark at the Oceanic Street property for several of years, but was deterred by the discovery of tons of concrete that had been dumped there and covered with dirt, O’Rourke said.

Parks revenue was sufficient to buy the land, which cost $800,000, he said, but building a skatepark there would not have been feasible because of the cost of removing the concrete, estimated at nearly $1 million.

“We just thought as an agency there’s no need to dump extra money into this site when we have 10,000 acres of park land all over the county,” O’Rourke said.

The commission decided Monday to go ahead with building the skatepark there after Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. said the city would pick up half the cost of removing the concrete debris. The $500,000 would be available because the property is located in a Tax Increment Financing District, a public financing method for redevelopment and community improvement projects.

“The commission found the Oceanic site which seemed to be – is – excellent because it is centrally located,” Riley said Tuesday. “That was by far the best site they considered and so … we worked to help identify funds. I sent a memo to every member of City Council and there has been no dissent. I’m confident that City Council will overwhelmingly support this.”

The issue will go before City Council in September.

In addition to the city funds, the Charleston-based nonprofit Speedwell Foundation donated about $400,000 to remove the debris and prepare the site for the skatepark.

Plans for the skatepark will be unveiled at a public meeting the commission expects will be held soon, O’Rourke said.

Removing concrete should take about three months, he said.

The planned park will be “regional quality,” O’Rourke said, meaning it will be 25,000 square feet or more so that it can host competitions.

“We’re moving as fast as we possibly can,” he said. “Our site selection process, after 5½ years, is finally over.”


Broker & mayoral candidate Tecklenburg garners great support

CC&T Broker and Charleston mayoral candidate John Tecklenburg recently announced he has received the endorsement of former U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings. We could not be prouder to support Tecklenburg in this election!

Check out the article from The Post & Courier about the race!

Hollings endorses Tecklenburg in Charleston mayor’s race

Aug 17 2014 12:01 am

John Tecklenburg

Former state Rep. Jimmy Bailey won’t throw his hat in the ring for the 2015 Charleston mayoral race because of the time it would take away from his family.

Bailey, who ran against Mayor Joe Riley in 2003, said in a letter he is concerned about a host of issues facing the city but, instead, will offer to support whoever becomes the city’s next mayor.

Bailey’s letter said he’d been giving the race a lot of thought but “it became clear to me that I really did not want to give up so many things, such as picking up my grandchildren on a regular basis and watching them grow.

“I remembered going through the same agonizing thoughts when I went on to the General Assembly and how much I missed out on with my children while I was in Columbia six months of the year.”

Meanwhile, the only announced candidate, Charleston businessman John Tecklenburg, continued to consolidate support from the Lowcountry’s Democratic base. He announced last week he has the endorsement of former U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings.

For those in the know, this announcement is no surprise: Tecklenburg’s father Henry was one of Hollings’ close friends and advisors, and John Tecklenburg managed Hollings’ last re-election campaign in 1998.

Tecklenburg said he was honored by Hollings’ nod, adding, “Sen. Hollings is a true statesman, a model public servant and a role model of mine.”

A lot of names have been floated as possible mayor candidates, as Riley has said he won’t seek re-election to an 11th term. Some may wait until after this fall’s elections to declare their intentions.


Charleston City Council gives nod to tax-break extensions for hospital district, Neck Area projects

Diane KnichPost and Courier

Jun 17 2014 6:24 pm Jun 17 6:46 pm

Traffic flows through the Neck Area along Interstate 26, not far from downtown Charleston (top left). Charleston City Council on Tuesday gave initial approval to adding a decade to a tax incentives meant to help finance a redevelopment project in the area.

Charleston City Council Tuesday gave initial approval to adding a decade to a pair of tax incentives meant to help finance two large urban redevelopment projects, one in the downtown hospital district and the other in the Neck Area.

The plans call for extending tax increment financing districts, or TIFs. Under such plans, improvements – such as roads, sidewalks and parks – for the developments would be paid for by future tax revenue generated by the development.

One plan is the Horizon Redevelopment Project, aimed at creating new housing and a biotechnology research hub on 20 downtown Charleston acres, between Lockwood Drive and Hagood Avenue, from Spring Street to Fishburne Street.

The plan was set to expire in 2033, but will be extended to 2043.

Charleston County and the Charleston County School District previously voted to extend the TIF only for an additional five years.

The other project involves the potential redevelopment of land along the Ashley River in the Neck Area called Magnolia. The property previously was home to heavy industry and includes a Superfund environmental cleanup site.

That TIF was set to expire in 2029, but now will run through 2039.

Charleston County and the Charleston County School District also extended it for another 10 years.

City Council must vote on both extensions two more times before they are final. Dates have not yet been set for those votes.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said the Neck Area plan includes $500,000 for a community center in the Rosemont area. The money for the project was included at the request of Charleston County Councilman Teddie Pryor, Riley said.

But, he said, the city had been considering the project. “It’s an appropriate use of TIF funds,” Riley said. “It’s a public building that will enhance the neighborhood.”

Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.

Link to article on Post and Courier website here.