Council OKs $30M project in downtown Summerville

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) -- Summerville's town council on Wednesday night signed off on a $30 million economic development package for its downtown area.

The plan -- called the Dorchester Hotel project -- includes a 66-room, four-story hotel with rooftop terrace, an upscale restaurant, retail space, a parking garage, and nearly three dozen condos.

"This project is an answer to requests many Summerville residents have made for an events facility, more public downtown parking, and condominiums where residents can live, work, shop and dine in downtown without having to drive," said Mayor Bill Collins.

The council on Wednesday gave approval for Collins to move ahead with negotiating the project with Applegate & Co. of North Charleston.

The project will be built on land purchased by the town several years ago on Cedar Street. The current plan puts an events area beside the hotel and condos wrapping around the sides of the parking garage.

Town officials said the town will pay for construction of the events building and the parking garage through revenue bonds from hospitality taxes. The hotel and condos will be paid for by the builder, officials said.

The town will own the events facility and the parking garage but they will be managed under contract, officials added.

Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2015 and is expected to take 18 to 24 months to complete. The project is expected to create about 60 jobs and boost tourism in downtown Summerville, according to officials.

"The Dorchester Hotel project will bring a healthy revenue stream to the town," Collins said.

Also during the meeting, council members passed the town's 25-year vision plan with a 5-2 vote. The plan included adding public transportation, expanding downtown, and more crosswalks and sidewalks for pedestrians.

The plan has Diane Frankenberger excited for the future of her fabric business in Summerville.

Cutting fabric is just one of the daily tasks Frankenberger completes to keep her business going. Frankenberger moved to Summerville in the 1960s and since then she's kept a close eye on the town's progression.

"Back then you came downtown for everything, everything it was all here," said Frankenberger.

Frankenberger said in the 1990s Summerville was becoming a ghost town, but the vision plan for 2040 will prevent that from happening again.

"So if this vision plan, if even two percent of it happens you know, hot dog," said Frankenberger.

"It's giving people to not only live in Summerville, but also work in Summerville. So they don't have to jump on I-26 and travel into Charleston. They can live, play, dine, do everything they need right here in Summerville," said Town events and Media coordinator, Tiffany Norton.

She says residents will see changes in the next five years.

"A revamping of the historic downtown, revitalization to the Oakbrook area by Old Trolley road, Dorchester area and the new sheep island interchange which actually be the new entrance into the town of Summerville in lieu of the 199 exit.

It's a vision plan business owners like Frankenberger agree with.

"We're Summerville, we're not Charleston and we're not Columbia, we exist between Lincolnville and Jedburg; we are and we have to be who we were," said Frankenburger.

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