Columbia’s Whitney Hotel OK’d for condos/apartments

The Whitney Hotel will revert to condominiums – what the building was built for in the early 1980s – but units could be leased as apartments if they don’t sell.

After the building spent more than 30 years as a hotel, the Columbia Board of Zoning Appeals approved the site for multifamily housing Tuesday.

Teresa Hodge, of Estate Properties, said the company is still working out the details of whether the condominiums will be leased.

But she told the board that the interior and exterior will be upgraded and will include new flooring, new cabinets, uplifting common areas and improvements to the outside.

“We want to take it back to something special,” Hodge said.

The board also approved a parking variance to allow 112 spaces instead of 147. The seven-story building would continue to have 75 units. This averages 1.5 parking spaces per unit, which is the same requirement in sister cities such as Greenville, Charleston and Charlotte, Hodge said.

The Old Shandon Neighborhood Association and the Devine Street Association supported the change.

Christina Cropp, vice president of the Devine Street Association, said the developers for the Whitney met with the association last month and were diligent about providing information and saying the goal was to build up Devine Street and Columbia.

Hoyt Burnett, the president of the Old Shandon Neighborhood Association, said the rates at the Whitney had gone down and there was concern it would continue to decline as a hotel.

But some neighbors voiced concerns that the Whitney will turn into a college dormitory, with noise, trash and parking issues. The University of South Carolina is less than a mile away. Five Points, the destination popular for nightlife among college students, is even closer.

Phillip Bush, who lives at 800 Woodrow St., told the board he fears the median age of the Whitney will skew heavily downward.

Hodge said with other properties the company has developed, such as 42 Magnolia in Forest Acres and Arcadia’s Edge in Arcadia Lakes, it has made efforts to keep them from becoming student housing by income verification, credit checks and background checks.

The target demographic for residents at the Whitney is young professionals, she said.