Beaufort developer plans to return to hotel plan for vacant lot downtown
By MINDY LUCAS
In the latest back and forth between Dick Stewart, of 303 Associates, and the City of Beaufort’s Historic District Review Board, Stewart says he is returning to his original idea of building a hotel on a lot in downtown Beaufort.
The Beaufort developer had most recently proposed a four-story building featuring condominiums or apartments for the vacant lot, on the corner of Scott and Port Republic streets.
However, after receiving criticism from members of the community and representatives of the Historic Beaufort Foundation in July over the project’s mass and scale, Stewart decided to scrap that idea and return to his original plan of building a hotel.
Stewart said he made the decision shortly after the review board’s July meeting and after meeting with representatives with Historic Beaufort in an attempt to resolve concerns over the building’s scale and design features.
Historic Beaufort’s new executive director Cynthia Cole Jenkins said the foundation maintains its position that the project did not meet the criteria for in-fill construction.
“We are always concerned about mass and scale and, especially when you’re in the heart of the National Landmark Historic District,” Jenkins said.
Stewart also has plans to demolish a smaller building on a lot he owns next door to where the hotel will be constructed. The building is currently being used for storage.
The review board had given approval for the hotel plan at its October meeting and took up the approval of the demolition separately at its most recent meeting on Nov. 13.
Stewart, who also owns The Beaufort Inn across the street from the property, said the hotel will carry The Beaufort Inn name and will feature a pool, fitness facility and full-service restaurant, he said.
City parking currently provided on the lot will relocate to the parking lot behind the Pat Conroy Literary Center and will also be used for hotel guests, Stewart said.
Historic Beaufort had also voiced concerns over a tabby wall that abuts the property, thought to be the last remaining tabby wall in the commercial district.
Courtney Worrell with 303 Associates said the company has discussed measures to stabilize and protect the wall with its owner, Kevin Cuppia, as well as with Historic Beaufort and has no intentions of pile driving.
The company expects to break ground and begin construction sometime in the second quarter of 2020, Stewart said.
Above: This tabby wall, adjacent to the stie of a proposed hotel, is believed to be the last tabby wall in the commercial district of downtown Beaufort.