Inn at Palmetto Bluff expansion nears approval

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comMay 13, 2014 

Construction of an expansive new Inn at Palmetto Bluff could begin this summer or fall, as the 150-room design inches toward approval by the town of Bluffton.

Development Review Committee members on Tuesday asked for a few changes to landscaping and emergency-vehicle access. Those changes are expected to be made in a detailed landscaping plan for the 28-acre site in two weeks, according to officials from Crescent Communities, the real estate investment firm that owns Palmetto Bluff.

Construction of the $100 million project could start between July and September, but would likely start in the fall after site preparation and demolition of a spa on the new inn's site, senior vice president of development David Muenks said.

The new inn will be constructed near the intersection of Mount Pelia Road and Gilded Street, near Palmetto Bluff's main shopping district at Wilson Village. The main inn area, consisting of three buildings, would hold 74 rooms, a new spa, a restaurant, a fitness facility, meeting rooms, and a ballroom that would function as a reception hall for weddings. Parking would be across Mount Pelia Road in a lot that has already been cleared.

A new 200-seat chapel also is planned across Mount Pelia Road, but residents raised concerns that wedding parties would have to cross the busy road to reach the reception hall. A carriage house to the west of the new inn would contain eight more rooms.

Five two-story buildings across a lagoon, near the inn's current 50 cottages, would hold 54 rooms. Near the existing inn building and a fitness pool on Drayton and Parkman streets, 14 more rooms would be built in place of restrooms and showers at the pool. Those facilities would be reconstructed along the sides of the building, along with four new pools and a pool bar planned behind the main inn.

While the hotel is reconstructed, a temporary spa would be constructed in two of the cottages, Muenks said. They would be converted back into cottages once the hotel would be completed.

Three more phases are also planned for the inn's expansion that would include 42 "branded residences," whose owners would have access to hotel staff and amenities like the spa and new pools.

After Tuesday's meeting, some residents, who declined to provide their names, expressed concerns that the developer wasn't taking into account how much traffic the project could generate. A traffic study done by the developer cited about 115,000 vehicles would pass through the gates each year, but gate counter totals from the first four months of 2014 showed 116,410 vehicles did in those off-peak months alone.

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