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Downtown Fairfield Inn


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On 1/18/2021 at 12:03 PM, westsider28 said:

A new hotel will go before the DRB for preliminary approval at their Feb. 2 meeting.  This is the "Montgomery courtyard" parcel between the Montgomery Building and The George along Saint John Street, backing up to the parking deck.  The developer is Hawkeye Hotels of Iowa, and the architect is Dynamik Design of Atlanta.  Looks like both have done many solid urban projects.

Excited about this.  I thought there was a chance for a downtown hotel to be announced this year, because COVID should be over by the time it would open (~2 years from now, probably).  I'm much more confident in this one happening, because this looks to be a large and experienced developer.  Can't wait to see the plan/design.

It was mentioned on another thread, but this is the appropriate thread as it's located in the Renaissance Park area.  A Fairfield Inn is the brand proposed for the site detailed above.  Here's an HJ article and here's the DRB packet.  It's 5 stories, 64 feet tall, and 136 rooms.  I added several screenshots below.  Looks great!

2096020238_FairfieldInn1.JPG.815dcb44709d2ece24caf985f097f5d9.JPG

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That's adaptive reuse, though, which is completely different from new construction.   Don't expect an entirely different design than the first proposal.  It will likely be a refinement of the existing

The DRB might be one of the best things to ever happen to Spartanburg.

The hotel will be up for final approval at tomorrow's DRB meeting.  The black center section is now "thin brick" rather than aluminum panels.  You can also see the HVAC vents more accurately.  Subtle

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On 1/29/2021 at 12:15 PM, westsider28 said:

It was mentioned on another thread, but this is the appropriate thread as it's located in the Renaissance Park area.  A Fairfield Inn is the brand proposed for the site detailed above.  Here's an HJ article and here's the DRB packet.  It's 5 stories, 64 feet tall, and 136 rooms.  I added several screenshots below.  Looks great!

2096020238_FairfieldInn1.JPG.815dcb44709d2ece24caf985f097f5d9.JPG

993129201_FairfieldInnelev.JPG.ccbe490092b0bccf8f9f101f827fd12d.JPG

71865430_FairfieldInnlandscape.thumb.JPG.67aa6f5e1c426b8619aa109dc85425c0.JPG

 

A Fairfield should work well downtown.   That brand has been inching up in quality and amenities over the last decade.  And, much stronger brand recognition than Cambria.  

This project has WOW written all over it!    

 

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This exterior design seems very popular today and reminds me of the Home2 Suites, Hyatt Place, and even Aloft in downtown Greenville, although Aloft was woven into an attractive, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use plaza development with excellent street-level appeal.  Aside from the benefits they provide to visitors (and thus local proprietors and the economy), I see minimal visual appeal to these places and would prefer a bit more proven architectural effort.  Better alternative designs in downtown Greenville (minus the Westin and Hyatt Regency because they are unique) include the Residence Inn/SpringHill Suites, Courtyard, Homewood Suites, Embassy Suites,  Hampton Inn & Suites, AC Hotel, Grand Bohemian, and proposed Kimpton.  I even prefer the aging Holiday Inn Express & Suites design over the recent designs that brand has been constructing.

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At tonight's DRB meeting, the board decided not to grant preliminary approval.  The board was mainly concerned with the large blank expanse on the right front with the paneling design.  They would prefer more windows there and to de-emphasize the paneling element, as they thought it would look dated quickly.  They're looking for a less "stock" design; something more timeless and sensitive to the downtown context.  The development team seemed willing to rotate rooms within the building floor plan to provide more windows there, and to revisit the colors/style on that panel element.  Hopefully, with those changes, the project will receive approval next month and continue toward construction.

Edit: H-J article https://www.goupstate.com/story/news/2021/02/03/spartanburg-design-review-board-criticizes-downtown-fairfield-inn-design/4286752001/

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On 1/31/2021 at 9:18 AM, Skyliner said:

This exterior design seems very popular today and reminds me of the Home2 Suites, Hyatt Place, and even Aloft in downtown Greenville, although Aloft was woven into an attractive, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use plaza development with excellent street-level appeal.  Aside from the benefits they provide to visitors (and thus local proprietors and the economy), I see minimal visual appeal to these places and would prefer a bit more proven architectural effort.  Better alternative designs in downtown Greenville (minus the Westin and Hyatt Regency because they are unique) include the Residence Inn/SpringHill Suites, Courtyard, Homewood Suites, Embassy Suites,  Hampton Inn & Suites, AC Hotel, Grand Bohemian, and proposed Kimpton.  I even prefer the aging Holiday Inn Express & Suites design over the recent designs that brand has been constructing.

Yeah they built an Embassy Suites in uptown Charlotte that looks exactly like this. It's not very attractive and it looks generic. I can't fault hotels for it, but I'm glad that people care enough to question it in a downtown area. I would agree, though, that the architecture would be less relevant if it were a top a large mixed use building.

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On 2/2/2021 at 8:10 PM, westsider28 said:

At tonight's DRB meeting, the board decided not to grant preliminary approval.  The board was mainly concerned with the large blank expanse on the right front with the paneling design.  They would prefer more windows there and to de-emphasize the paneling element, as they thought it would look dated quickly.  They're looking for a less "stock" design; something more timeless and sensitive to the downtown context.  The development team seemed willing to rotate rooms within the building floor plan to provide more windows there, and to revisit the colors/style on that panel element.  Hopefully, with those changes, the project will receive approval next month and continue toward construction.

Edit: H-J article https://www.goupstate.com/story/news/2021/02/03/spartanburg-design-review-board-criticizes-downtown-fairfield-inn-design/4286752001/

This is encouraging.  The end result may seem minimal, but I can imagine the original design falling out of place in a hurry.  Perhaps someday Marriott will consider a more suitable brand in that location.

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2 hours ago, Darelle said:

I wondering will they go for something like the AC hotel classic design .. This is a Fairfield Inn in New Orleans

That's adaptive reuse, though, which is completely different from new construction.   Don't expect an entirely different design than the first proposal.  It will likely be a refinement of the existing design.  We were spoiled with the AC Hotel.  It was a legacy project for a local, old-money family who spared no expense.  This is a market-driven proposal by an outside developer, and our market isn't high-end enough to get AC Hotel-caliber design consistently (few markets are, honestly).  I'm fine with an improvement on the existing design.  Not every building in a city has to be an architectural showpiece.  Most are just general urban fabric contributors, and that's okay.

BTW, this will be back before the DRB for preliminary approval at their March 2 meeting, so we'll see what changes were made then.

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Here's the DRB packet for Tuesday's request for preliminary approval.  As I suspected, not really a significant change in design.  More windows were added on the front of the building, which definitely looks better.  The City's consultant suggests asking the developer to extend the brick base from the left side across the full length of the facade, and that there needs to be more detail on the HVAC vents.  We'll see what the DRB members think.  Some updated screenshots:

1893960528_FairfieldInnupdate1.JPG.15f914d19d569bd1f780becfc4f8f94b.JPG

1871190875_FairfieldInnupdateelev.JPG.915eafbdea8997880da6273e2bf93cfc.JPG

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The DRB gave preliminary approval with the condition that the developer add more brick to the lower portion of the front facade, which they were amenable to (one floor across the front, or focused at the entrance area were talked about as possibilities).  Good to see this continue to move forward.

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It's better than a vacant lot, I suppose, but I am underwhelmed. The lack of windows was never my issue with it. The issue remains that the streetscape is not great, and the building looks like it could be built out by I-85 somewhere. Typically the DRB makes things better. This one might be a miss from a design standpoint.

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1 hour ago, Spartan said:

It's better than a vacant lot, I suppose, but I am underwhelmed. The lack of windows was never my issue with it. The issue remains that the streetscape is not great, and the building looks like it could be built out by I-85 somewhere. Typically the DRB makes things better. This one might be a miss from a design standpoint.

Can you elaborate on your issues with the streetscape?  It meets the glazing requirement for the ground floor, and they're adding significant width to the sidewalk as well as street trees.  Design is subjective, but brick and metal panels are high-quality materials.  IMO, they also do a decent job breaking up the long building into several sections.  It's by no means perfect, but I'm fine with it generally.

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On 3/3/2021 at 9:56 PM, Spartan said:

It's better than a vacant lot, I suppose, but I am underwhelmed. The lack of windows was never my issue with it. The issue remains that the streetscape is not great, and the building looks like it could be built out by I-85 somewhere. Typically the DRB makes things better. This one might be a miss from a design standpoint.

 It does closely resemble the new Courtyard hotel along I-385 in Mauldin.  They appear to be very similar in size and design.

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On 3/3/2021 at 11:04 PM, westsider28 said:

Can you elaborate on your issues with the streetscape?  It meets the glazing requirement for the ground floor, and they're adding significant width to the sidewalk as well as street trees.  Design is subjective, but brick and metal panels are high-quality materials.  IMO, they also do a decent job breaking up the long building into several sections.  It's by no means perfect, but I'm fine with it generally.

I didn't realize they were adding width to the sidewalk. That was my main issue. You need at least 16ft for sidewalk+amenity zone one a street with 40+ mph operating speeds. It looks like it necks down to 4-5ft back of curb on the east edge of the site based on the rendering, and IMO you need to have the wide sidewalk section connect to wide sidewalk at The George. I also don't like the way it's dealing with the loading zone for cars. I wish there was a way it could go in the back, or they could make it mountable curb and use bollards or something to delineate the pedestrian space.

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6 hours ago, Spartan said:

I didn't realize they were adding width to the sidewalk. That was my main issue. You need at least 16ft for sidewalk+amenity zone one a street with 40+ mph operating speeds. It looks like it necks down to 4-5ft back of curb on the east edge of the site based on the rendering, and IMO you need to have the wide sidewalk section connect to wide sidewalk at The George. I also don't like the way it's dealing with the loading zone for cars. I wish there was a way it could go in the back, or they could make it mountable curb and use bollards or something to delineate the pedestrian space.

Looking at the site plan, the sidewalks in front of the hotel will be 14 feet total width (St John is technically 35 mph).  It does narrow back down on both sides.  The west end makes sense because the sidewalk next to the Montgomery Building is pretty much stuck being narrow.  The east end I wish they could widen and slope up to meet the elevated sidewalk in front of The George, but it's hampered by the powerline easement (the existing pole will remain, with guy wires).  The sidewalk technically belongs to SCDOT, making this all more difficult too.  I think the end product will unfortunately be awkward, but at least the majority of the sidewalk will be MUCH wider.  Here's a close-up of the sidewalk plan:

2144175067_fistreetcloseup.thumb.JPG.d34d623e73e6473730689690e1d7ad2f.JPG

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TBH, the power pole issue is fairly minor and IMO is a bit of a copout by the developer. It's totally possible to work with Duke Power on that design and find some sort of compromise. They could go behind the pole and in front of the transformer. At a minimum they make sidewalk guy wires specifically for this purpose and you could pave up to the edge of that transformer, resulting in at least an 8-10ft wide sidewalk (estimate based on that site plan) for the ~10-15 ft needed to get around the power pole and transformer.

I realize that is pretty nitpicky, but the details matter when it comes to creating a great urban environment for pedestrians. They wouldn't settle for this in Greenville, Charleston, or Charlotte (etc.), so we shouldn't settle for it here either.

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Posted (edited)

The hotel will be up for final approval at tomorrow's DRB meeting.  The black center section is now "thin brick" rather than aluminum panels.  You can also see the HVAC vents more accurately.  Subtle changes again overall.   Here's the packet (PDF).  And here's the City consultant's recommendation.  He recommends simplifying the overall color palate and that perhaps the brick should all be the same color.  He also mentions a blank wall portion on the west side, and at least adding a design element there (if not windows). 

Finally, the consultant says that the eastern sidewalk needs to better transition to the sidewalk in front of the George (like moving the pole to allow a wider sidewalk).  @Spartan your post about that actually inspired me to write an e-mail to the City Manager, so I'm glad to see the issue has gotten attention.  I hope it is addressed.

2082710960_FairfieldInnupdate2.JPG.c12a86bc0f2b6c63dfb8f91a4b9c7c96.JPG

Edited by westsider28
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23 hours ago, westsider28 said:

The hotel will be up for final approval at tomorrow's DRB meeting.  The black center section is now "thin brick" rather than aluminum panels.  You can also see the HVAC vents more accurately.  Subtle changes again overall.   Here's the packet (PDF).  And here's the City consultant's recommendation.  He recommends simplifying the overall color palate and that perhaps the brick should all be the same color.  He also mentions a blank wall portion on the west side, and at least adding a design element there (if not windows). 

Finally, the consultant says that the eastern sidewalk needs to better transition to the sidewalk in front of the George (like moving the pole to allow a wider sidewalk).  @Spartan your post about that actually inspired me to write an e-mail to the City Manager, so I'm glad to see the issue has gotten attention.  I hope it is addressed.

2082710960_FairfieldInnupdate2.JPG.c12a86bc0f2b6c63dfb8f91a4b9c7c96.JPG

Fantastic!!!

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The DRB deferred a decision until a special meeting next week to see a different color option for the white portion (likely a light grey instead).  The development team also agreed to put clerestory/transom windows on the west side like those on the east side.  DRB members were initially split on colors, which led to some confusion, but they finally settled on some concrete details to guide the design team, who were concerned about undue delays.  (BTW, the Cambria developer seems to be involved in this project in some fashion, as he participated in the meeting).

As for the eastern sidewalk, the portion in question is mostly outside the hotel's property, so it's more of an issue between Duke Energy and the City (and USC Upstate, as it would involve their property to some extent).  Fully ramping the sidewalk (eliminating the weird stairs at the George) is being looked into as the ideal solution, though it would be expensive.  I hope the City realizes that it's worth it to do this right.

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I totally agree. You don't want to be known across the country as a city where you nitpicking every little thing. Developers will stop doing business and then what??? Most major cities buildings do not look the same. But when you are nitpicking a darn HOTEL. It may come at a cost in the long run.

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The DRB beats these projects to death. I don't think they realize or care how much you have to go through to do one of these projects. You have to meet Building code, urban code, fair housing, ADA, Fire Code, 

Franchise requirements,  etc. etc.  Then the good ole boys at DRB want to kick you around for 6 months.  I think they do as much harm as good in many cases.  

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DRB wouldn't have to nitpick if developers would stop proposing poorly designed projects. Charleston Columbia and Greenville seem to get attractive stuff, why not us? 

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