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Georgetown Times office sale finalized for Front Street boutique hotel

Georgetown Times building (copy)

Lachicotte Company real estate agent Christy Whitlock confirmed Sept. 15 Winyah Hospitality LLC purchased the building at 615 Front Street to build a 56-room boutique hotel along the city's harborwalk.

GEORGETOWN — At a time of major redevelopment of Georgetown's historic downtown, the office of South Carolina's oldest newspaper will soon be demolished to construct a 56-room boutique hotel along the city's harborwalk.

Lachicotte Company real estate agent Christy Whitlock confirmed Sept. 15 that Winyah Hospitality LLC recently purchased 615 Front St. for $1.17 million, nearly 10 percent above tax appraised value, according to county records.

The office is home to Georgetown Times, owned by the parent company of The Post and Courier in Charleston. The newspaper will plan to move over the next few months, company executives said.

"The Georgetown Times is very important to our company, and we plan to find a new location within the city of Georgetown," said P.J. Browning, publisher of The Post and Courier in Charleston and president of the Evening Post Industries newspaper division.

Winyah Hospitality LLC was established in 2017 just days before Georgetown City Council approved a resolution in November 2017 supporting a developer incentive package totaling $2.25 million over 10 years, though it was later dropped.

Winyah Hospitality LLC consists of Whitlock, Benjamin Zeigler and Joe Keenan, the firm's managing member and principal project developer. Keenan is a principal with Palmetto Commercial Properties out of Charleston and Zeigler is a Florence bond attorney and board chairman for the Belle W. Baruch Foundation, owner of Hobcaw Barony in Georgetown County.

Plans for the hotel have been scaled back as the pandemic delayed completion of the sale. The original idea called for an 85-room hotel, costing $15 million and employing 15 workers. 

But Keenan said these amounts have since changed due to the pandemic. He did not release new development costs, employment figures, or a timeline for construction.

The sale comes at the same time as a $25 million project, including luxury apartments and an open market, is being planned in the city's old electric department building less than 2 miles away. City officials, residents and developers are trying to make the state's third-oldest city more inviting to tourists driving between Charleston and Myrtle Beach.

The Georgetown Times purchased the building in 1981, according to property records.

Evening Post Industries, the Georgetown Times' owner, "has deep roots in Georgetown so we spent significant time and resources thinking about the type of use that would best activate this end of Front Street," said Ron Owens, the company's chief investment officer and director of real estate.

"Ultimately, we thought Georgetown would benefit from a high quality waterfront hotel and entered into discussions with several groups," Owens said. "EPI determined that Joe Keenan and Winyah Hospitality would deliver a great project and had the resources to see this through. We couldn’t be happier with our selection."

Evening Post Industries will retain ownership of the Harborwalk Marina and adjacent property, he said.

"We really believe this will be great project for the City of Georgetown," Owens said.  

Georgetown Mayor Brendon Barber welcomed the new investment.

“Having an anchor hotel in the main business historical district is going to be a plus,” he said.

Georgetown Business Association Jack McManus said the hotel could be an attraction.

"It's another anchor that will help fill a gap for tourists, friends and family that are coming into town to stay, and (they will) be right on the water and right downtown," McManus said.

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Follow Demi Lawrence on Twitter @DemiNLawrence.

Demi Lawrence reports on Georgetown County for The Post and Courier. She graduated from Ball State University in 2020, and previously was an intern at The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Indiana and Indianapolis Monthly.

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