The six-story waterfront hotel being built along Charleston Harbor has faced a series of challenges — from engineering complications and pandemic-related delays to a complete interior redesign — but The Cooper’s ownership says the property’s upgrade to a “five-star” lodging will be worth the wait.
The Cooper has been conceived as a 209-room luxury lodging on Concord Street, just north of Waterfront Park. Construction is still underway, and the hotel is two years away from welcoming its first guests.
Plans call for 2,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, as well as 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space. Amenities include waterfront dining, a spa, rooftop bar, pier and marina.
Los Angles-based Lowe broke ground on The Cooper in early 2020, three years after buying the land from the State Ports Authority for $38 million.
It was initially eyeing a 2022 opening, but delays halted work in 2021, pushing that date back. Now, the new local based ownership group behind the project expects the hotel to make its debut in the late spring of 2025.
The original plans showed 225 rooms, but the owner of the Beemok Hospitality Collection reduced the number in order to accommodate more suites.
“A waterfront property in the heart of downtown Charleston like this is important, not just for the hospitality industry but for the community as a whole,” said Casey Lavin, Beemok’s president.
Beemok Hospitality Group is an affiliate of Beemok Capital, the family office of local businessman and philanthropist Ben Navarro. It acquired Dallas-based Dart Interests’ stake in The Cooper in 2021 and is now the majority owner of the development.
Most of the interior designs and spaces were already set when Beemok came on board. Lavin said the company spent the last year making changes that would elevate it to a “5-star-level property.”
“We’ve dug into every square inch of the building for a pretty robust reimagination of the interior with our design team,” Lavin said. As a result, we have a completely different room product than what was originally planned.”
Mike Mansager, Lowe’s senior vice president, said construction is moving smoothly as the final stages of the façade are underway. Window installation and stucco are going up now.
There is no shortage of expected waterfront dining options either, with five dedicated spaces for food and beverage options.
“We envision the hotel becoming the kind of place where someone can go and get a casual bite, dinner or drinks,” Lavin said. “Whether that’s down on the waterfront park level overlooking the harbor, the second-floor dining room with expansive views of Patriots Point, the sixth-floor rooftop restaurant that offers nearly a 360-degree view of Charleston or one of the cafes.”
In redesigning The Cooper, Lavin said that Beemok wanted to create spaces within the property that locals felt were “uniquely theirs.”
“We hope that we can be a place that Charlestonians and visitors enjoy because we are more than just a tourist destination,” Lavin said. “The retail and dining options combined with waterfront access is something we think will appeal to locals and tourists alike.”
The Cooper is considered the “younger, cooler sister hotel to Charleston Place,” which is Beemok’s flagship asset. If approved by the city, Charleston Place will undergo its own major renovation within the next year. While the properties are only a quarter-mile apart, both will be high-end hotels set apart by décor and amenities.
“We see ourselves as stewards of Charleston Place,” Lavin said. “Everyone has a story from their experience there. It’s an iconic hotel in the heart of downtown and we look forward to its next chapter after we complete renovations.”
One of The Cooper’s biggest selling points is the waterfront park in its backyard. Lowe worked with the city of Charleston to extend the park by more than 400 feet. A new dock and marina facility suitable for boat dockage and water taxi service is planned.
Mansager said that ensuring public access along the waterfront has remained one of the most important aspects of the project.
“We are extremely excited that this will be achieved with the expansion of … Waterfront Park and the creation of a wonderful public asset for Charleston,” Mansager said.
Beemok shares that vision, seeing the waterfront aspect as a way to connect hotel guests or local diners to Charleston in a new way. It would allow for direct public access to the water while making places like John’s Island accessible by ferry.
“We are proud of what this property has become, and we think it’s going to be something special for Charleston,” Lavin said.