DRB tells developer of proposed hotel to go back to the drawing board

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City's DRB Urban panel told the developer of a Homewood Suites hotel across from Fluor Field that proposed changes won't work.

The City of Greenville Design Review Board Urban Panel on Thursday told the developer of the proposed Homewood Suites across from Fluor Field to go back to the drawing board.

The Homewood Suites by Hilton application was one of three projects reviewed by the panel at its August meeting. The others included the addition of two storefront entrances to a building along the Falls Park pedestrian path and a tax assessment for the Westone project on Stone Avenue.

Homewood Suites

The DRB tabled a decision about a certificate of appropriateness for modification to building materials for a proposed Homewood Suites by Hilton hotel and parking garage at 942 S. Main St. until its September meeting.

The DRB had approved plans for the Homewood Suites by Hilton at its March 2016 meeting, but developer Shaunak Patel of Parks Hospitality Group said design changes to the project were required because of high costs.

The new design eliminated a rooftop opening, added a fourth level of parking, and replaced stone at the lower levels with a second color of brick.

DRB Urban Panel Chair Carmella Cioffi said the open area at the top of the hotel made a huge visual impact and really contributed to the look of the project.

“I’m really disappointed. I understand economic issues, but I’m disappointed that it’s gone,” she said.

Patel told the panelists the rooftop bar was “something that economically didn’t work for the deal.” He said his company has done hotels with rooftop bars, including the Hyatt Place in downtown Asheville. “That was successful, but it costs millions,” he said. “This project is already at $32 million.”

DRB member Danielle Fountaine said to Patel, “I wonder if you’re being penny wise but pound foolish.” She said other rooftops in downtown Greenville have been successful.

DRB member Mitch Lehde said the new design was “going back to a box building that could go on the interstate.”

Fountaine said the new look of the parking garage was unacceptable because Rhett Street is a pedestrian street and the new look of the garage is “very industrial.” “We cannot have an exposed garage structure like this on this street,” she said.

“I hope your clients understand there is additional cost building a hotel on Main Street rather than a block off or in the suburbs,” she said. “This is not on some exit on 385. It’s on Main Street, not only Main Street but in the West End in which brick is dominant.”

Cioffi told Patel he needed to come back with a creative solution that allows the use of a less expensive construction “but it can’t be what you presented today.”

531 S. Main

The DRB approved a certificate of appropriateness for a project that will add two storefront entrances to the Falls Place building at 531 S. Main St. along the Falls Park pedestrian path.

City staff recommended approval of the project because the addition of retail in the area will provide additional activation of the pedestrian path with minimum disturbance to the park.

Earle Hungerford, architect with McMillan Pazdan Smith, said building owner Dr. Richard Greer wants the Falls Place Riverwalk renovation “to keep the flavor of what’s there and allow some retail function.” The storefront will be composed of a glass façade and double doors with a wood frame that is reflective of many of the existing historical buildings around downtown. It will also blend with the existing path and park environment.

The approval came on the condition that the existing crepe myrtles not be impacted by construction and the Swamp Rabbit Trail and Falls Park sidewalk not be closed during construction. Outside tables will not be permitted.

Westone

The DRB approved a preliminary certification for a special tax assessment for the building at 109 W. Stone Ave., previously known as the Star Cleaners & Dryers building that was home to the Battery and Electric Company most recently.

The development at 109 W. Stone Ave. known as Westone will house a brewery, restaurant, and the second Coffee Underground location, among other retail outlets. The tax assessment based on the historic nature of the building would allow the developers, Pete Brett and Michael Fletcher, to pass along a lower triple-net lease rate to tenants. The DRB does not grant the tax assessment, but their recommendation that it be granted is necessary. The DRB said the building has historic architectural significance and was the first commercial property on Stone Avenue.

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