COLUMBIA — A seven-story hotel under the Hilton brand has been proposed for Gervais Street in Columbia’s Vista.
The 249-room hotel would be built on an L-shaped lot that surrounds the McDonald’s location at Gervais and Huger streets.
If approved, the project would break ground in early 2023 and take 18 months to complete, said Ashok Patel, CEO of developer Naman Hotels of Florence.
The hotel would bear two brands: the upper-end Homewood Suites and Tru by Hilton, a mid-range brand.
Hilton has been combining two brands in single locations in other projects around the country.
Each wing of the property will have the rooms of one of the two brands, while a central lobby will serve both, Patel said.
There are substantial savings when the two brands can share facilities such as laundry and meeting rooms over building two separate hotels, Patel said.
The proposal is spelled out in a filing with the city’s Design/Development Review Commission, which examines proposed project to make sure they comply with city standards.
The committee is scheduled to review the project at its May 19 meeting.
Naman also operates the Staybridge Suites at 1913 Huger St. and two hotels in Lexington County. Overall, the company operates 27 hotels in North and South Carolina.
Anchored by the Colonial Life Arena and Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, the Vista district has become a growing attraction in recent years as a place to dine, shop and attend events.
Other hotel projects coming to the area include a soon-to-open Cambria hotel on Lady Street, a five-story hotel on Huger Street and conversion of the former Armory building on Assembly Street into a boutique hotel.
The developer also plans to build a 430-space parking garage on the site, to provide parking for the hotel and whatever the company decides to build on remaining space there, Patel said.
The garage will be completed in time to open alongside the hotel, Patel said.
The company is unsure if the remaining land will be used for another hotel, apartments, or another use, he said.
Naman has owned the land for a decade and resisted numerous offers to buy it, Patel said.
The company waited to find the right hotel brands to serve the Columbia market.
That was tricky, Patel said, because Columbia does not have a huge tourist draw like Charleston or Charlotte but charges a high property tax rate.
“It’s not a magnet,” Patel said.
Columbia’s property tax is so much higher than other places where Naman does business that it made the math for the deal difficult, he said.
The many government and nonprofit properties in Columbia do not pay property tax, which makes the tax rate tough for private businesses to come in, he said. The hotel also will pay a 7 percent tax to rooms, Patel noted.
That, Patel said, is why the sought-after property parcel in the Vista sat unused while projects in other markets went ahead.
Patel is expecting to tap into a tax break offered by the city and Richland County for offering parking to the public in the parking garage. The tax break is offered to encourage private developers to offer infrastructure that benefits the public.
Jessica Holdman contributed from columbia.