Owners of floating hotel look to Port Royal after getting thumbs down in Beaufort

emoody@beaufortgazette.comMarch 21, 2013 

Boats are shown here moored to the Beaufort Downtown Marina Friday afternoon near The Charlestonian, second from right, a 93-foot yacht the owner seeks to turn into a boat hotel. After Beaufort City Council turned down the plan, the owner says he's hoping to locate the hotel in Port Royal.

SARAH WELLIVER

Beaufort City Council voted down a proposal for a floating hotel last month, so the boat's owners have shifted their course slightly south.

The Andrae Boat Co., which owns the 93-foot yacht The Charlestonian, will now try to operate in Port Royal, according to Karen Andrae.

"We love the area," she said this week. "We absolutely fell in love with the area, and my husband and I hope to retire here one day."

Ted Andrae, Karen Andrae's father-in-law, spent months this winter working with the city on a plan to operate from the Beaufort Downtown Marina, which is in a conservation district, a special zone designed to protect wildlife and recreational space.

City Council and staff developed a list of restrictions for "botels," but council ultimately voted 4-1 against the plan on February 19.

Undeterred, the Andrae family has started talks with the owners and operators at the Port Royal Landing Marina. Whether The Charlestonian will go there has not yet been decided; the conversations began just last week, dock manager Tony Constant said.

"We've both sat down and talked, and we're both weighing what it means to be here," Constant said." He added that marina owner Tom Wilson is not concerned "strictly about money. He wants a certain atmosphere."

Port Royal town manager Van Willis said he knows of no ordinance that would keep the botel from operating at the marina. One would not be allowed at the town's shrimp docks, however, because the lease agreement with the S.C. State Ports Authority mandates they be used for seafood operations.

The Port Royal marina, near the foot of the J.E. McTeer Bridge that takes S.C. 802 across the Beaufort River, is part of a planned unit development, which has its own zoning rules. Unlike the Beaufort Downtown Marina, the Port Royal marina is privately owned and operated.

"I don't really have any issues with it as long as that's something Mr. Wilson wants," town Councilman Tom Klein said. "We have plenty of 'live-aboards' now, so I don't see a lot of difference in having a botel there."

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