On 7/14/2020, Latonya Gamble sent the following questions to Steve Ramos:
1. Did you do a traffic study?
a. Response: Yes. A traffic study was completed by Bihl Engineering. See attached.
2. What measures will be taken to hire residents from the community?
a. Response: One of the requirements of the BZA- Z Hotel Special Exception Approval Process is the following: “The commitment to make affirmative, good faith efforts to hire personnel, representative of the population of the Charleston community, at all employment levels.” The owner team is committed to fulfilling this requirement. The hotel will create hundreds of jobs, and finding talent within the local community is ideal for the operation. OmShea will run local ads for available positions and perform in- person interviews with all eligible applicants.
3. Will there be room for advancement?
a. Response: Yes, there is room for advancement- we are a family owned business that encourages our employees to learn and grow. We foster opportunities for individuals to advance from within the organization and we support all of our employee’s efforts to make that advancement a reality.
4. Where will the delivery drives be located?
a. Response: A service access driveway and garage entrance is located on Meeting Street adjacent to the Elan Midtown Apartment Building. The garage is of sufficient height to allow for large vans and trucks to enter the garage so that deliveries can be internal to the property and concealed from view. See plan below.
5. Where will trash be located?
a. Response: The trash will be stored within the parking garage. There are 2 options for trash pickup:
i. Option A- trash pickup from the service access on Meeting Street.
ii. Option B- on Woolfe Street adjacent to the vehicle exit.
Owner Team- OmShera
· Ryan A. Miller
· Laruen Chavis
· Latonya Gamble
· Edward Jones
· Steve Kinder
· Phelipe Hort
· Charlies Haber
· Gigi Galloway
· Joseph Watson
· Art Maybank
Architect Team- LS3P
· Steve Ramos- Design Architect- Main point of contact
1. Summary: SR presented the plans for The Woolfe Hotel to the Eastside Neighborhood. The project details are the following:
a. The Hotel was approved at Zoning in February of 2019
b. 250 Keys
c. 4- Star Hotel
d. 20,000 sq. ft of meeting space
e. Ground level café, restaurant and retail
f. Sidewalk dining
g. Rooftop restaurant and pool
2. BZA Board of Zoning Appeals: SR explained that the project would be presented to the BZA on August 4th. The project had already been approved at the BZA for a 250 key hotel in 2019. The following modifications had been made which was the reason for returning to the BZA for an amended design:
a. Revised motorcourt and parking garage design
b. Parking count right- sized from 260 cars to 220 cars
c. The addition of a service drive on Meeting Street
d. Relocation of the pool from the 3rd floor to the 8th floor
e. Inclusion of an outdoor terrace at level 8
3. Neighborhood Questions and Comments:
a. Trash and Service: There were questions about how trash and service vehicles would be handled.
i. Response to Service: A service access driveway and garage entrance is located on Meeting Street adjacent to the Elan Midtown Apartment Building. The garage is of sufficient height to allow for large vans and trucks to enter the garage so that deliveries can be internal to the property and concealed from view.
ii. Response to Trash: The trash will be stored within the parking garage. There are 2 options for trash pickup:
1. Option A- trash pickup from the service access on Meeting Street
2. Option B- trash pickup on Woolfe Street adjacent to the vehicle exit. See ground floor plan
b. Street Activity, Charlie Haber: CH asked about activity along Meeting Street, “What active uses would be present?”
i. Response: SR commented that the hotel would bring a lot of activity and energy to the corner of Woolfe and Meeting where it was very much needed. SR explained that vacant sites and parking lots are not good for the city, and that active uses creates “eyes on the street”, which is ideal for cities. SR explained the following active uses at ground level:
1. The hotel lobby would create a strong presence at the corner of Woolfe and Meeting. The lobby is conceptualized as a large living that it is open to the public. The kind of place where you can go to enjoy a cup of coffee, meet a friend or to do some work on your laptop.
2. The hotel would have a café within the lobby that would be open all day.
3. Space had been allocated for additional retail and restaurant space along Meeting.
4. In addition there is sidewalk dining along Meeting Street. See Meeting Street Plan.
c. Sidewalk Dining, Charlie Haber: CH inquired about outdoor sidewalk dining?
i. Response: SR confirmed that sidewalk dining had been planned for. The building had been pulled back over 8 ft. from the property line along Meeting Street. This setback creates a 20 ft. wide sidewalk along Meeting Street. SR commented that as a resident he had been disappointed in the size of the city sidewalks and that he always pushed for larger sidewalks on new development.
ii. CH was pleased that there would be sidewalk dining and said it spoke to the character of the neighborhood. See Meeting Street Plan
d. Business Outreach, Joseph Watson: JW asked if outreach had been made to the business along the Eastside of Meeting Street such as Money Man Pawn?
i. Response: SR commented that the emphasis had been put on connecting with the residents that would be most impacted by the hotel development which included The Skygarden Student Apartment Building, The Elan Midtown Apartment Building and the Eastside Neighborhood. SR commented that the team had not yet talked with the adjacent businesses which include Burris Liquor Store, Exon, Hot Mustard, TU Restaurant and Fetter Health Care. SR commented that the addition of the hotel would most likely have positive economic benefits on the surrounding businesses as it would bring more people who would utilize the businesses.
e. Greater Empowerment Organization, Joseph Watson: JW mentioned the need for support and engagement with The Greater Empowerment Organization.
i. Response: SR asked for JW’s contact information and that he’d like to learn more about how they could help. JW’s contact information:
1. Joseph Watson
f. Construction Cost, Art Maybank: AM asked about the cost of construction?
i. Response: RM commented that the cost of the building was undetermined at this time. The drawings represented the first pass at design and it would be some time before a price was determined.
g. Neighborhood Support, Art Maybank: AM said that developers often solicit support from the neighborhood, but the developers fail to reciprocate support back to the neighborhood.
i. Response: SR asked what type of support would the neighborhood need. SR comments that Charleston’s allure and charm is centered around the people. And that creating a strong supportive symbiotic relationship between the businesses and the residents was important to maintain balance.
h. Meeting Space Porch, Charlie Harber: CH asked if the ballroom along Meeting Street would have an overhang or porch along Meeting Street?
i. Response: SR commented that currently the design does not include an overhang or porch along Meeting Street. SR said that the same 8 ft. setback that occurs at level 1 and continues up to level 2 and 3. SR said the design could be opened to create an “open- air porch effect”.
i. Parking Questions: There were questions about the amount of parking and whether the current plans showed the current amount. There was also a question about whether employees would have to pay for parking.
i. Response: SR said that the plans shown account for 220 cars which is the correct amount. The previously approved BZA design had a total of 260 cars; however SR explained that 260 cars were excessive. SR explained that a 250 key hotel is required to provide a total of 167 cars for guests and additional parking for employees. A total of 53 cars had been provided for employees, which SR explained to be the largest amount of employee parking for any downtown hotel. SR explained that employees would not be charged for parking.
j. Traffic Study: LG asked if a traffic study had been provided.
i. Response: SR commented that a traffic study had been completed in February of 2019. This was prior to SR’s involvement with the project. SR said that he had not yet had a chance to review the traffic study. SR said he would review and send a summary.
ii. After the meeting, SR did a thorough review of the traffic study. The following is a summary:
1. The study’s emphasis was on the intersection of Woolfe and Meeting and the entrance to the hotel on Woolfe.
2. The study made recommendation for signage and striping on Woolfe to help facilitate the flow of traffic.
3. The study indicated little to no effects to the Eastside Neighborhood as a majority of the traffic would be dispersed to King and Meeting.
4. It should be noted that a car cannot easily get to East Bay Street from Woolfe. Woolfe turns into Amherst, which becomes a one- way westbound street prior to East Bay.
k. 8th Floor Restaurant/ Terrace, Latonya Gambles: LG asked SR to explain the rooftop.
i. Response: SR highlighted the one of the major changes since the previous hotel approval was that the pool had been moved from the 3rd floor to the rooftop. In addition, a restaurant and bar had been also located on the 8th floor with outdoor roof terrace. SR said that the development was voluntarily committing to the proposed rooftop ordinance even though the ordinance had not yet been adopted. In an effort to mitigate sound transmission to neighboring property. SR showed that a 24 in. horizontal buffer and 48 in. vertical barrier will occur at the edge facing the Elan Midtown Project. The barrier is most likely solid parapet up to a certain height, and then glass. See 8th floor plan and buffer diagram.