Developer scraps controversial Hilton Head hotel -- plans water park instead

gmartin@islandpacket.comJuly 18, 2012 

Resistance to the boutique hotel Michael Kronimus wanted to build on Hilton Head Island's north end was so strong that he said it forced him to scrap his plans.

Now, the Bluffton developer will have to wait and see whether residents will be more receptive to his next idea for the property -- a water park.

Citing an unwillingness to engage in a protracted battle with residents of The Cypress of Hilton Head, a retirement community in Hilton Head Plantation, Kronimus withdrew a request to discuss his plan Wednesday before the town's Planning Commission.

He had hoped to build a 140-room hotel along Squire Pope Road on the Salty Fare site and presented those plans before a mostly disapproving, standing-room-only crowd of Cypress residents May 30. The property is along the Cypress's western boundary. Residents complained about the traffic and commotion a hotel would create, especially on weekends.

"It would have been a great spot for a hotel, but we didn't want to fight for a few years to get it done," Kronimus said. "We realized it would be a battle."

Instead, Kronimus, who is the executive principal with KRA Inc., an architectural firm in Bluffton, will propose two restaurants and a water park for the 10 acres along Skull Creek.

"We didn't give up," he said. "We tried to work with the community, doing even more than we needed to do, but we have to move forward, with the economy rebounding."He said he was optimistic about his new plans, adding they -- unlike the boutique hotel -- would not require a zoning change.

Anne Cyran, a town senior planner, confirmed that a water park is permissible under the land's commercial zoning designation, adding the plans have yet to be submitted.

Kronimus said the restaurants would be national chains, catering to the families he hopes the water park will attract.

He added that the water park would be relatively small and offer attractions similar to those at the "Splash in the Boro!" park in Statesboro, Ga. -- and that he intends to bring the plans before the Planning Commission next month.

Several elements of the hotel proposal would remain intact, including the use of a parking lot on the south end of the road and a 30- to 50-foot-wide wooden boardwalk connecting the property with nearby restaurants, such as the Boathouse Grill, Chart House and Hudson's Seafood.

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