A deal that would put a new hotel in downtown Charleston was sent back to the developer Wednesday after Charleston Urban Renewal Authority commissioners found it to be unsatisfactory.
CURA director Jim Edwards told reporters after the agency’s monthly board meeting that Richmond, Virginia-based KM Hotels wanted to lease the Quarrier Street property that once hosted the Holley Hotel.
Commissioners are only interested in selling the property.
Commissioners also told Mayur Patel, owner of KM Hotels, that the company would be in charge of parking at the site, not CURA.
Patel has proposed building on the site a Homewood Suites, which is an extended-stay hotel.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, who has been a critic of the project since the summer, issued a press release Wednesday in “complete support” CURA’s position on the development agreement.
“If a Homewood Suites — part of the Hilton chain — would be built there, that would be very exciting and a big improvement to that area,” Jones stated about the potential project.
Patel, who gave a short presentation to commissioners on Wednesday, showed images of a Homewood Suites in Missouri that would be similar to the one that could be built in Charleston.
The proposed design would create about 80 large suites and 20 smaller ones on seven floors. The building would also have between 1,500 and 2,000 square feet of conference space, as well as retail on the first floor.
“This was a suggestion that Jim had that you guys would want something there, so we added it,” Patel told the board. Homewood Suites doesn’t normally include retail space. Patel would lease the space in the Charleston hotel, should CURA approve the pending development agreement.
Rates would go from $139 to $159 per night, Patel said.
KM Hotels has developed other hotels in the Charleston area, including a Knights Inn, Budget Host Inn, Days Inn and Microtel Inn and Suites.
The company also has hotels in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Maryland and Virginia, according to its website.
CURA agreed to enter into negotiations with Patel in July, but was under the impression then that Hilton Garden Inn would be built on the property. The change came after a market study by the Hilton brand showed the extended-stay hotel would be better suited for downtown Charleston, the Gazette reported in December.
No deal has been solidified between CURA and KM Hotels until the board approves a desired development agreement.
Edwards said the board should return to the issue at its March meeting.
In other business Wednesday, commissioners voted to supply the Charleston Area Alliance with a 20 percent match for a Virginia Street transportation grant.
Susie Salisbury, of the Charleston Area Alliance, requested the money as part of a request for $600,000 from the West Virginia Division of Highways that would go toward streetscape improvements on Virginia Street East from around Civic Center Drive to Truslow Street.
“It’s not an area that you probably pay much attention to anymore, but for whatever reason back in the day this about block-and-a-half was left out,” Salisbury said of development that buried utility lines in the city.
Salisbury outlined more than $33 million of private investment in the two-block area between the Charleston Town Center and new hotels.
“And you’re about to invest close to $60 million in the Civic Center,” Salisbury said. “You’re going to have a whole lot more pedestrian traffic, hopefully, taking place in this area and it just does not look good.”
Salisbury estimated the project would cost $850,000 that would pay for improving the streetscape and lighting. Burying utilities would cost about $800,000 more, and Salisbury acknowledged that funding hasn’t been obtained for that portion of the project yet.
“We would like to go ahead and get a grant application in. It may take a couple of years before we’re funded, simply because you were just funded for Smith Street this past year.”
CURA assisted in gathering money for a similar project in that area of the city last year.