A six-story Marriott Residence Inn is planned amid Hilton Head Island's bustling Coligny area.
The 104-room, extended-stay hotel would replace largely vacant offices and shops in the back of Heritage Plaza development on Pope Avenue, directly behind New York City Pizza and Plantation Cafe.
Plans include five floors of large guest rooms and a sixth-floor rooftop pool and patio with a small bar. Blanchard & Calhoun Commercial, the same company that revamped the former mall at Shelter Cove into the Shelter Cove Towne Centre, is the developer for the project.
The hotel proposal comes on the heels of last year's rewrite of zoning rules, which had previously restricted new hotels in the Coligny area.
The highest parts of the building's roof will reach 65 feet tall, about 5 feet beyond the height restriction for the area, but the town's Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved a variance to that rule Monday.
The plans also include six ground-floor guest rooms, which would not normally be allowed, but the appeals board also granted a variance to that rule because the building is far enough away from Pope Avenue.
Marriott Residence Inn rooms are designed for extended stays and include a kitchenette and small living room with a sofa bed, in addition to the bed and bathroom found in typical hotel rooms. This will be the first Residence Inn in Beaufort County and Marriott's fourth hotel on the island.
The bulk of the building is drawing concern from owners in the neighboring Coligny Villas, directly behind the proposed site. The owners could lose much of their sunlight and view, and the rooftop bar and pool could bring noise problems, said Jay Owen, vice president of the villas' board of directors.
"If you can imagine walking out the door of these units here and seeing a 60-foot structure in front of you, it will affect the property values, where now they have a nice sunset," Owen said.
Almost all of the office space and former bars in the building at the site are vacant and crumbling. The few remaining tenants say they want to see the dilapidated, graffiti-laden structure redeveloped.
"We're excited about this," said Billy Fink, owner of Bicycle Billy's bike rentals, which has an office and workshop in the plaza. "This hotel is going to be the nicest development this close to the beach, and this area needs it."
As part of the new plans, Fink will maintain his Pope Avenue office next to Plantation Cafe, but he will consolidate his bike fleet by 40 percent and give up his workshop in the back building. He also plans to open an Italian ice shop next to the office to supplement the smaller fleet and complement the new hotel, he said.
Timeshare Resales and Heritage Barber & Beauty will be looking for south-end office space to relocate to within the next year, their owners said Monday.
The Sage Room restaurant at the north end of the hotel building site also will be remodeled and renovated, but it will not close, according to hotel architect Rob Ponder and John Lee, senior vice president of Blanchard & Calhoun.
The plans are still subject to town permitting and further review by the Design Review Board. Construction would begin as soon as permitting is completed, potentially before the end of the year, Lee said.
The proposed hotel bolsters Blanchard & Calhoun Commercial's growing roster of projects on Hilton Head and in Bluffton.
The developer is also revising plans for the luxury apartments along Broad Creek at Shelter Cove Towne Centre. Once criticized for being too tall for that area, the company and Mayor David Bennett have crafted a new design to split the planned 240 apartments into two smaller buildings at the north end of the center.
Blanchard & Calhoun is also working with Bluffton leaders to turn Buckwalter Place into an open-air shopping center, anchored by a mega-Kroger to be flanked by stores and restaurants -- much like the Shelter Cove center.