The Vendue Inn to be reborn as The Vendue, an art-centric boutique hotel

Art will play a big role in the renovated Vendue Inn. (Brad Nettles/Staff) 2/19/14 Buy this photo

The same hospitality group that turned Folly Beach's Holiday Inn into Tides Hotel has transformed the former Vendue Inn into a boutique hotel that marries lodging with gourmet food and fine art.

Avocet Hospitality Group on Wednesday gave a preview tour of the hotel that will likely wrap up construction in the Spring, according to Jon Weitz, CEO of Avocet.

Weitz revealed the hotel's plans to center on local art- with nearly every inch of the hotel doubling as a gallery space.

The Vendue has partnered with local artists Megan and Robert Lange of Robert Lange Studios, who will design and curate two to three art exhibits at the hotel each year. Mary Martin Gallery will help select the artists to be featured.

"It's more of an exhibition space that happens to have hotel rooms rather than a hotel that displays art," Weitz said.

Avocet isn't the first hospitality group to announce plans for an art-minded hotel. The Kessler Collection, which broke ground last month on the Grand Bohemian hotel at Meeting and Wentworth streets, is known for its focus on music and art. The Grand Bohemian in Charleston will feature one of the Kessler Collection's largest art galleries yet.

Avocet Hospitality Group bought the 66-room Vendue Inn and in December 2012, which included 26 Vendue, the 40-room hotel across the street. Avocet then bought the adjacent Anchorage Hotel in August and tacked its 18 rooms onto 26 Vendue.

Both hotels at 19 and 26 Vendue Range will be billed as The Vendue, an 85-room, dual property hotel.

But the biggest changes are happening at 19 Vendue Range. Avocet began a $4.8 million renovation project in November to combine the four historic warehouses that comprised the Vendue Inn, the Library Restaurant and the popular Rooftop Bar.

Now adjoined as one hotel, the historic buildings will feature an upscale restaurant, a sitting room and a coffee shop on the first floor.

The lobby has been expanded and will lead into a new upscale restaurant billed as The Drawing Room. The 50-seat restaurant will center on shared plates prepared by Jon Cropf, Blu Restaurant and Bar's former executive chef.

The next building, which was formerly the Vendue Inn's administrative office, offers a seating area with a mini bar and a new elevator to the Rooftop Bar.

On the East Bay Street corner will be The Press, a coffee shop named for its history. The building housed the South Carolina Gazette newsroom and printing press in the late 18th century. Starbucks will service the coffee bar.

The Rooftop Bar is getting some nips and tucks-but not full cosmetic surgery like the rest of the hotel. The general layout will remain the same.

The Vendue is scheduled to reopen in phases beginning in April. The hotel rooms and The Rooftop should be open in time for the Cooper River Bridge Run. The rest of the hotel and the Drawing Room will be open by May 1st, according to a release.

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail

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