MOUNT PLEASANT — Brickyard Plantation residents who packed a Town Hall hearing on a developer's plan for a new 96-room hotel applauded a Planning Commission vote Wednesday that recommends keeping the project out of their neighborhood.
In an emotionally charged atmosphere, some of the estimated 200 residents who attended the meeting expressed worries that the hotel would reduce their home values, make already risky traffic more dangerous and increase the threat of child predators. The extended-stay hotel would be located about 100 yards from the neighborhood swimming pool, tennis courts and school bus stops.
"What better set-up for a pedophile?" said resident Lynn Shealy.
Mark Singer of Brigantine, N.J., a representative of the developer, responded that the hotel will be a first-class Staybridge Suites that was conceived and designed with an eye toward a commercial development suitable for location near an upscale neighborhood.
"Whether you like it, something will be built. This is commercial (property). We feel this is the proper place to build this hotel," Singer said. The average length of stay will be eight days, and 82 percent of the customers are business people, he said.
Bill Banta, a homeowner, said 580 signatures in opposition to the hotel were collected on a petition. Although the hotel would have a pool, residents said they worried about unauthorized use of their amenities. Banta said a hotel, even an outstanding one, does little to address community needs. A professional office building would make more sense in that location, he said.
"Who are you going to vote for?
Someone from New Jersey or someone from Mount Pleasant?" said resident Joe Turner.
Brickyard Plantation has 825 homes. Staybridge Suites, part of the InterContinental Hotels Group, has 118 locations, including Myrtle Beach at Fantasy Harbour and another franchise in Greenville. In Myrtle Beach, Staybridge Suites rates for next week range from $72.99 nightly for one bedroom to $108.99 nightly for two bedrooms.
The 62,000-square-foot, three-story hotel is planned on 2.2 acres next door to the subdivision entrance behind the retail Shops at Brickyard. Singer said the developers have made a $50,000 commitment with Staybridge Suites, so the project will not become a different, less-desirable short-stay hotel. "This hotel fits this market. We don't see it changing at any time," he said.
The hotel and its swimming pool are envisioned to be a boost to nearby retailers, according to papers filed with the town Planning Department. If approved by the Town Council, the project is expected to generate $321,000 in impact fees and more than $150,000 annually in city and county taxes.
IHG describes Staybridge Suites customers as good neighbors, conservative and family-oriented. Its guests are about 80 percent business travelers and 20 percent vacationers. The Planning Commission vote is a recommendation to Town Council, which will likely consider the project in January.