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Blacks Missing Out In Charleston Hotel Boom
2/11/2015 5:11:30 PM

Staff Reports

With scores of new hotels being built in the area conspicuously absent is an overt push from Black entrepreneurs amid the proliferation of new hospitality businesses positioning to take advantage of the area’s burgeoning tourism and visitor industry.

A recent report noted one of the last vacant pieces of property on downtown Charleston’s King Street sold for over $3 million to accommodate a 54-room high end hotel project reportedly valued at $17 million.

The Golden Dream Motel which closed in 2004, was the last Black owned business of its kind in the Charleston area. The motel was built in 1967, the first to serve Blacks in the North Area. Prior to then racial segregation limited lodging options for Blacks. There were several small motels and rooming houses catering to the Black community in downtown Charleston and West Ashley, but none in the North Area.

Initially the motel had 20 rooms. Eight more were added two years later for a total of 28 rooms that provided one of the few places in the metropolitan Charleston area offering modern, private convenience to its customers.

Most notable among the Black owned hotels of the past in Charleston were the St. James Hotel on Spring Street near Hagood Street, Brooks Motel on Morris Street, rooming houses at 75 Washington Street and 26 Morris Street and Ethel’s Motel West Ashley on Old Wallace School Road.

The onset of integration gave Blacks more lodging options for the first time. Soon the Golden Dream, the last of the old Black owned hotels, found itself competing with large motel chains. And discrimination in lending played a key role in the slow choke hold that ultimately led to its closure.

Although Charleston had a colorful Black hotel business community during the segregation, today’s modern business climate makes the hotel industry an attractive one being neglected by Blacks.

With almost 3,400 rooms available on the Charleston peninsula the opportunities for participation in the growing hotel industry are lucrative. Tourism’s economic impact is over $3.2 billion annually. The growth spurt in hotel development is a clear indication others see the business opportunities on the horizon.

The Former Brooks Motel (left) on Morris Street

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