The luxury hotel replacing the former State Ports Authority headquarters on Concord Street plans to share its enviable view of Charleston Harbor with the public by developing an extension of the city’s Waterfront Park.
The city has been considering giving public access to this property since at least 1980, when planners laid the groundwork for the 12-acre park along the southeastern edge of the peninsula. Almost exactly 27 years after the park opened in May 1990, this plan is on the way to becoming reality.
City council will vote Tuesday on a memorandum of understanding between the city and Lowe Enterprises, formalizing the hotel developer’s plans to build the park extension in front of his property at 176 and 186 Concord St., then hand over its operation and his upkeep in town once it’s over.
“Whenever these relationships can be formed, I think it’s a win-win for everyone,” said Josh Martin, Councilor to Mayor John Tecklenburg.
He said the addition is just one way the city hopes to create more opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy the coastline of the peninsula.
“This pursues the overall vision that we would have a green edge around the entire peninsula,” he said. “So there would be public access to the most valuable land on the peninsula, which is our seaside.”
The length of Waterfront Park will increase by almost 400 feet, an addition that will match the design and character of the existing park, Martin said.
The city and the developer will soon file a joint application with the Army Corps of Engineers for permission to build the park on the swamp in front of the hotel property – a necessary step before the project can begin.
Martin said it is not clear at this point whether there will be opposition to the request from residents or environmentalists.
“We hope (…) that the city as a whole sees the value of this Waterfront Park extension and supports it,” he said.
Emily Cedzo of the Coastal Conservation League said she was encouraged by the project and the developer’s willingness to communicate with the organization.
She said Lowe executives asked for the association’s ideas on how to improve the natural features of the property.
“We appreciated, in addition to providing public access, that they would be interested and willing to develop the natural habitat there,” she said.
Lowe bought the 6.5-acre property in January for $ 38 million to build a 225-room hotel. Plans include indoor and outdoor dining, a full-service spa and rooftop lounge and observation deck. Architect renderings also show a pool, fitness center, ballroom, meeting rooms, and retail space on the ground floor.
The Los Angeles-based company did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.
Contact Abigail Darlington at 843-937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail.