Construction of the Vista’s first boutique hotel, a 108-room, $18 to $20 million project, is to start in April, the owner said after Columbia’s design commission approved the plan Thursday.
The Design Development Review Commission voted unanimously in favor of an Aloft Hotel at Lady and Lincoln streets, but left some design details to city staffers to work out with the hotel company.
The five-story building will be constructed with street-level retail space and a basement level at its western edge. It also is to have an outdoor patio and a pedestrian alley, according to renderings of the project being examined by the commission.
Opening is scheduled for fall 2016, according to owner/developer Raj Champaneri, who disclosed the investment in the project.
The Aloft would be the newest addition to some half dozen hotels in the Vista. A six-story Hyatt on Gervais Street is set to open next week.
Co-owner Ajay Champaneri said boutique hotels are becoming a trend in areas of cities and towns where development has been slow or depressed. Steve Patel is the third co-owner of the venture.
A couple of Vista residents attended Thursday’s meeting to raise concerns about the project – in particular its size, which one resident said is too big for the area. Its height will block his view of the State House, another resident said.
Commission members said solutions for such concerns were not within their jurisdiction.
“I’ve talked to a number of additional hoteliers that are looking at the area,” said Fred Delk, director of Columbia Development Corp., a public/private partnership that promotes and guides downtown development.
“A lot of people who are staying in the suburbs and vacationing or working downtown want to stay downtown,” Delk said. “So some of the suburban hoteliers are starting to look downtown.
“With the student housing and more upscale housing it’s only going to get better,” Delk said. The expansion of the nearby State Museum also is likely to drive tourism.
Take a virtual tour of the Charleston Aloft Hotel produced by Aloft.
Staff Writer Jeff Wilkinson contributed