Grand Bohemian is just the type of development downtown needs

The cherry on top

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Architect Christian Sottile shows a rendering of the Grand Bohemian Greenville.

There’s a weird feeling that we are all probably too familiar with, that feeling that happens right after you finish eating a huge meal at your favorite restaurant: You’re stuffed, but the server sets the dessert menu on the table and, as if the 16-ounce bone-in rib-eye never happened, you are hungry for more.

Sure, if you were given the opportunity to order another entrée, you would probably politely decline in hopes of avoiding downright gluttony, but the opportunity for dessert is different: It is a sweet addition that makes one wonder how the entire dining experience could have be complete without it.

In a city that sees a new hotel pop up out of nowhere seemingly every week, enter the Grand Bohemian Hotel: the sinfully indulgent chocolate cheesecake with a cherry on top that is coming to contrast the all-you-can-eat buffet of Greenville development.

Over the last decade, it’s become apparent that, if we want to be a big-kid city, we’re going to need big-kid hospitality that will attract out-of-town recreational and business tourism.

Over the last few years, we’ve made enormous steps toward that goal by adding the countless much-needed hotel rooms to our downtown. However, the monotony of design in these hotel properties hasn’t gone unnoticed.

If there’s a complaint about development in the central business district over the past five or so years, it’s that everything, for the most part, looks to be designed the same way: glass, steel, brick, repeat.

As proud as we are — and should be — about all of this growth in Greenville, the fact remains that you can’t create “the land of milk and honey” with cows alone. You need bees, too, and this city has been seeing more and more proverbial dairy farms pop up as of late.

Right on cue, the Kessler Collection, the company who owns the Grand Bohemian hotel chain, acquired arguably the greatest view in the Southeast, right on “the other side” of Liberty Bridge on the banks of the Reedy River overlooking Falls Park, i.e. the spot currently inhabited by Wyche P.A.

Kessler also revealed its design, in partnership with Sottile & Sottile Architects out of Savannah, Ga., for a 160-room boutique hotel.

This Grand Bohemian will not only be a welcome addition to the Greenville hospitality scene but also a case study for how to perfectly represent a city’s spirit through architectural design and site planning, as well.

Greenville’s Grand Bohemian was a design born from the crucible of impossibility. When it was first announced that the Wyche P.A. property was going to become the home for a new downtown hotel, many immediately thought, “How in the world are they (or anyone, for that matter) going to be able to slap a hotel there without tainting the natural beauty of our city’s crown jewel?”

Well, the Kessler Collection did it. And they did it in a way that makes perfect sense, but that no one would have ever thought of. Even as the city has grown, it still has maintained its love for the great outdoors, and with their national park lodge-inspired design, the Grand Bohemian holds true to that exploratory spirit by incorporating wood and stone.

By embracing the challenge of designing a commercial building adjacent to Falls Park, without resorting to the all-too-common brick, steel, and glass, the Grand Bohemian Hotel is going to swiftly impact the way future development in this city is approached in a very prevailing fashion.

The thing is, though, the Grand Bohemian does this everywhere. The Kessler Collection simply observes the culture in which it intends to enter and then crafts a piece of architectural brilliance that perfectly encapsulates every little nuance of that specific town and culture. Just make the one-hour drive up to Asheville or the three-hour drive down to Charleston to see Kessler’s hotels there, and you’ll see what I mean.

I hope you saved room for dessert, Greenville.

Ah, who am I kidding — there’s always room for dessert.


Bobby Barreto is the CEO of Asterisk Development LLC, a member of the board of directors for the Greenville Area Parkinson Society, and an advocate for the continued growth of downtown Greenville.

 

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