Devine Street Project

The Whitney Hotel on Devine St. might become apartments

jwilkinson@thestate.comMay 1, 2013 

— A developer is contemplating turning venerable The Whitney Hotel at the corner of Woodrow and Devine streets in Columbia into apartments.

Matt Mundy of Estates Properties Inc. has applied to the city for a zoning change and parking variance to turn the 75-unit suite hotel into the same number of apartments.

“It’s still very preliminary,” he said. “It could stay a hotel. We’re trying to find the best use.”

Mundy said he has the building under contract with its Saudi Arabia-based, Los Angeles-managed ownership group. The amount of the pending sale was not disclosed.

The seven-story hotel was built in the early 1980s as a condominium tower. It was converted to a suite hotel after the tax laws on condo ownership changed in 1986, Mundy said.

Today, the one- and two-bedroom units still have separate living quarters and bedrooms and even full kitchens, Mundy said.

In addition to nightly stays, the hotel has been used as a residence inn, often by state lawmakers and others.

In 2011, the University of South Carolina’s athletics program came under scrutiny of the NCAA when it was discovered that 10 football players and two women’s track athletes received reduced rates at The Whitney from then-manager Jamie Blevins. The discounts from May 2009 to October 2010 were worth a total of $47,000. In 2012, the NCAA issued a public reprimand of USC’s football program and penalized it with three years’ probation through April 26, 2015, the loss of three football scholarships in 2013 and 2014, indefinite disassociation with Blevins and boosters Kevin Lahn and Steve Gordon.

Mundy – whose group developed 42 Magnolia in Forest Acres and Arcadia’s Edge in Arcadia Lakes – said his firm is interested in the property because of its location in a section of town that is undergoing intense revitalization.

“It’s an incomparable location, especially with the development of Cross Hill (Market) and Whole Foods” a few blocks east on Devine Street, he said. “The restaurant and dining scene attracts a great crowd. It’s a destination for Columbia.”

Perry Lancaster, manager of clothing store Brittons of Columbia, which is located a block from The Whitney on the corridor of unique local shops, said he would welcome the change.

“With more people living in the area, there will more people shopping here and supporting local businesses,” he said.

The project will appear before the Columbia Board of Zoning Appeals on May 14. Zoning administrator Brian Cook said the zoning change to multi-family is routine, but that the building is short a few parking spaces and might need a variance, depending on the floor plans adopted.

Mundy said that after the zoning issues are cleared, his firm will make a decision on the building.

“We’re testing all the avenues,” he said.

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