Construction to begin on $30M boutique hotel

By Ashley Barker
Published Jan. 22, 2014

Developers broke ground on a 50-room, four-story boutique hotel in downtown Charleston today.

Grand Bohemian Hotel Charleston, which will be The Kessler Collection’s newest property, is expected to open at 55 Wentworth St. in the first quarter of 2015. Richard Kessler, chairman and CEO of The Kessler Collection, said the project will cost between $25 million and $30 million, and the hotel will hire around 100 employees.

CEO Richard Kessler said Grand Bohemian Hotel Charleston will open in the first quarter of 2015. (Photo provided by The Kessler Collection)

CEO Richard Kessler said Grand Bohemian Hotel Charleston will open in the first quarter of 2015.
(Photo provided by The Kessler Collection)

It will include an on-site 1,100-square-foot art gallery, 3,000 square feet of meeting and event space, a wine blending and tasting room, fitness center, coffee shop and cafe, library lounge, and a rooftop restaurant, bar and terrace.

Kessler said he had begun considering building a hotel in Charleston more than 15 years ago, but he struggled finding the right location. He finally found the spot about a year and a half ago.

“It’s a precious piece of real estate, and I think it’s going to be a very successful venture for the city and for us. I don’t think there’s anything else like what it will be in this city,” Kessler said.

The hotel, like the other 10 in the collection, will follow the bohemian style Kessler stumbled upon while visiting San Francisco in the 1970s. While borrowing money for a development, Kessler’s banker told him about the Bohemian Club, a group of people who celebrated the arts for a few weeks in a nearby park.

“Bohemian, that’s a great name. It’s edgy. It has a history; it’s rooted in culture from the 1500s. It’s about culture and music and art flourishing. That’s really my passion,” Kessler said. “Here we are today with a Grand Bohemian Hotel in Charleston. It couldn’t be a better place. This city is certainly about culture, art, music and history. All those things that are packaged into the word bohemian.”

The hotel’s $500,000 to $1 million art gallery will showcase oil paintings, bronze sculptures, art glass and jewelry. Kessler said art shows will feature work from local artists, as well as regional, national and international artists.

“Everywhere we go, our objective is to be a part of the community and give something to the community. We want to be a giver and be an active part of the community,” Kessler said. “A lot will be packed into this jewel box of experiences.”

Kessler said his team is surveying the Charleston restaurant menu market so that it can determine what the market lacks. The team will take those results into consideration when developing the menu for the rooftop restaurant.

“It will be upscale casual dining. It’ll obviously feature seafood and some great steaks,” Kessler said. “It will be very festive with beautiful furnishings and lots of art. There will be nothing like it in Charleston.”

The hotel will hire for “standard service positions” that are common in hotels, such as a housekeeping and food and beverage staff, and will also need employees to manage the art and wine collections.

Dean Riegel, Charleston’s mayor pro tem, said he is proud to welcome Kessler Enterprises to the city.

“They get it. Kessler Enterprises gets the traditions, gets the history and gets the culture of Charleston,” Riegel said.

The Kessler Collection plans to open new boutique hotels in Atlanta, Charlotte, Savannah and Birmingham, Ala. in the near future. The Orlando, Fla.-based company currently has properties in Colorado, Georgia, Florida, New Mexico and North Carolina.

Reach Ashley Barker at 843-849-3144 or @AshleyNBarker.

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