Charleston’s new cruise terminal made a big step forward Wednesday, as the City’s Board of Architectural Review (BAR) granted unanimous preliminary approval to the project’s design.

The BAR voted unanimously to grant conceptual approval to the project in August.

After a presentation by the South Carolina Ports Authority’s (SCPA) design team, the BAR approved the design plan, which is the conversion of an existing cargo-handling building into a functional and attractive passenger terminal. The SCPA voluntarily submitted the design to the architectural review process.

The latest design reflected input received from numerous public meetings as well as feedback previously received from the BAR. By incorporating public input and design influences from Charleston’s maritime heritage and architectural elements, the design fits contextually with its surroundings and knits the area into the city by replacing the chain link fence that surrounds the property with landscaped edges.

The project will be presented again to the BAR at an upcoming meeting for final approval to cover details, such as materials, colors and placement of equipment.

The new cruise terminal is expected to open in early 2013.