Plans for boutique hotel on Hilton Head's north end unveiled at Cypress

gmartin@islandpacket.comMay 30, 2012 

Conceptual plans for a boutique hotel on the north end of Hilton Head Island were unveiled Wednesday before a mostly disapproving crowd at The Cypress of Hilton Head.

The proposed 140-room hotel and its parking lot would straddle Squire Pope Road near the Cypress gate to Hilton Head Plantation and abut the western boundary of The Cypress, a residential retirement community.

The hotel was pitched to about 200 residents of The Cypress and of Hilton Head Plantation by Michael Kronimus, the head of a Bluffton-based architectural firm that is helping develop the land.

Kronimus said he is working for a "very prominent" international chain but would not name it.

For the hotel to be constructed, Hilton Head Town Council would need to modify the zoning for a 10,000-square-foot parcel that runs east of Squire Pope Road to the Daufuskie Embarkation Area. The parcel is now zoned for commercial use.

The rezoning request will be considered at a town Planning Commission meeting June 20.

"We're asking the Town of Hilton Head to modify what's allowed on the property and how much is allowed on the property," Kronimus said. "This is a very basic step, just a baby step."

Kronimus said the proposed hotel might retain some commercial elements, such as a restaurant and bar.

He said it would likely include the Daufuskie Embarkation Area, indicating the hotel chain might operate a "sister property" on that island.

The hotel complex also would include a 30- to 50-foot-wide wooden boardwalk -- "similar to what you may have seen in New Jersey," Kronimus said -- connecting the property with nearby restaurants, such as the Boathouse Grill, Chart House and Hudson's Seafood.

It would also provide for what Kronimus called "other aquatic uses," such as personal watercraft and boat rental.

The hotel would be "U-shaped," possibly with an outdoor pool in the middle, and facing away from the nearby residential communities.

"The reason we're doing that is we're trying to block the view of the community from the hotel and suppress any sounds," Kronimus explained.

He added that the hotel would not be more than 55 feet tall and would be below the tree line separating the property from The Cypress community.

Despite these accommodations, several residents told Kronimus the proposal worries them.

"This would become a destination nightspot, and people would come here like they do to the 'Barmuda Triangle,' " said Howard Davis Jr., referring to a bar and restaurant complex near the entrance to Sea Pines. He said his mother lives in one of the homes beside the proposed hotel. "It's the wrong direction to be headed for a residential community."

An expansion of the nearby Bluewater Resort and Marina, near the intersection of Squire Pope Road and Gumtree Road has begun.

Roy Plekenpol doubted the roads in the area could accommodate the traffic the hotel would bring and said the developers should expect considerable opposition.

"I, along with others, will vigorously oppose the Town of Hilton Head approving the (zoning) change," he told Kronimus. "You tell these people they're going to have a fight on their hands."

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