155 Meeting Street Heads to BAR
preservation-admin , May 8, 2023
The proposal to build an 8-story hotel complex at 155 Meeting Street goes before BAR-L this week. Source: May 10 BAR-L image overview
This Wednesday, the new design proposed to replace the old Days Inn building at 155 Meeting Street will be heard by the Board of Architectural Review-Large (BAR-L). Standing at 8-stories tall and located only 18 feet away from the buildings along Lower King Street, this project’s review is highly consequential. As you may have seen reported in The Post and Courier, this site is slated to be redeveloped as a Four Seasons luxury resort.
Earlier approvals from the Planning Commission and City Council for additional height and more hotel rooms paved the way for this application. We opposed those requests for upzoning in this extremely sensitive historic area. Now on the table is the design of the building.
There is no question the proposal reflects high-quality architecture. The authentic material palette, articulated details, rational rhythm of openings, and glassy facades are all reflective of Charleston’s character. However, the applicant is asking the BAR to approve an 8th floor for architectural merit, which overpowers the surrounding historic context.
Cross-section through Horlbeck Alley, showing the proposed building on right, and historic buildings along King Street on left
The tallest portion of the hotel would be directly behind King Street and rise to more than double the height of the majority of nearby historic structures. Renderings show the proposed building will be prominently visible from multiple vantage points and loom over the small-scale streetscapes of King, Market, and Meeting Streets.
Upzonings, like that approved for 155 Meeting, have become commonplace to facilitate bigger, denser developments without providing a balance of meaningful public benefit for residents, or seriously weighing the consequences of permanent impacts to Charleston’s fragile, urban landscape. Additionally, it saddles the BAR with the impossible task of reviewing proposals far out-of-scale with the historic environment.
However, height is a function of design review to ensure new construction responds to existing contexts, and the PSC will push for height reductions at BAR to mitigate the building’s impacts and promote preservation of the prevailing historic character.