Old Town Bluffton could be getting its first hotel.
While Bluffton has made strides toward becoming a tourist destination distinct from its better-known neighbors Savannah and Hilton Head Island, visitors still don’t have many options in terms of lodging in the vicinity of the town’s historic district.
That could soon change.
Development firm Landmark 2 LLC is proposing to build a new 13-room, three-story, 7,700-square-foot boutique inn on May River Road between Bluffton Road and Promenade Street.
Developer Larry Leary, who owns the property, said Monday that the inn will “be an upscale place” and “a landmark in Old Town.”
In the historic district, “you got all the restaurants and everything in walking distance” and with the addition of lodging, visitors “won’t need a car,” he said.
“You can go out and have a couple of drinks at nighttime and have a little weekend getaway,” Leary said.
Vince Harrison with Landmark 2 said each of the proposed inn’s rooms will have a private balcony, where guests “can sit and relax and have a glass of wine.”
He said the aim is to create a “luxury boutique inn” that exudes “vintage charm and class.”
I want it to be a landmark in Old Town.
Larry Leary, property owner hoping to build a hotel
Harrison is optimistic about the inn, but he did address the elephant in the room present during any discussion of Old Town development: parking.
“One thing everyone is going to think is ‘Where am I going to park?’ ” he said. “We’ve got that covered.”
Through a combination of on-site parking and partnerships with nearby property owners, Harrison said hotel guests won’t have to spend all day in search of a space.
Harrison said the development firm has been working to build relationships with owners of Old Town bars, restaurants and businesses.
“Everyone is on board” with the boutique hotel concept, he said.
Bluffton developer Eugene Marks — who has projects in Palmetto Bluff, the Promenade and Stock Farm — praised the idea Monday.
“The town needs it,” he said of a hotel in Old Town. “I think it is wonderful.”
Harrison and staff from Pearce Scott Architects met Monday with the town planners and the Historic Preservation Review Committee to discuss preliminary plans for the inn.
Before construction can begin, the town’s Historic Preservation Commission must approve the project and issue a certificate of appropriateness. That group next meets in early July.
If all goes as planned, Leary said he hopes to start construction within the next three months and complete the project within a year.