PC, BAR approve COA for hotel

Hilton Home 2 Suites coming to Blythewood.

BLYTHEWOOD – Third time was the charm for representatives of the Hilton Home 2 Suites who appeared before the Planning Commission Monday night requesting approval of a site plan for a four-story, 88-bed hotel they hope to construct on a 1.93 acre lot between I-77 and San Jose’s restaurant.

While serious concern was expressed by commissioners about the hotel’s lack of a direct access to Creech Road and the traffic impact the hotel would generate in an already traffic-challenged intersection at Creech and Blythewood Roads, the plan was approved 4 – 1 with Commissioner Marcus Taylor voting against.

Ed Parler, Blythewood’s economic development consultant, spoke up for the project saying it fits with the overall plan for the town.

“The hotel is the highest and best use for this piece of property,” Parler said. “There are no property taxes [in Blythewood], so bringing hospitality taxes, accommodation and sales taxes and state share value revenue means it will be the highest economic benefit for Blythewood.”

Parler further cited the traffic study that was initially requested by the Planning Commission and initiated by engineer Roger Dyar on behalf of Carter Engineering, as of low significance.

Based on the review of the site and Dyar’s analysis, he concluded that: the site will produce 496 additional trips per day; that the overall effects on the peak hour traffic flow would be minimal and that traffic flow should be acceptable at the proposed access point onto Creech Road.  At this location, all exiting traffic will make a right turn and then make a u-turn at some point to the south on Creech Road.

The study also recommended that a triangular island be constructed at the access point onto Creech Road to force all exits to be right turns.

Dyar said the details of this design will be handled by the site civil engineer and will need to comply with SCDOT Access and Roadside Management Standards and Highway Design Manual standards.

“I think Paragon [the hotel’s parent company] has done everything they could to make the intersection as good as they can,” civil engineer Jeff Carter of Georgia-based Carter Engineering Consultants said.

Tome Morgan, the project architect, said he expects construction to take 9 to 14 months.

Paragon hotel company owner Ricky Patel said the hotel will create 16 full time jobs and six part time jobs.

Immediately following the Planning Commission meeting, the Blythewood Architectural Board (BAR) met to consider a request from the hotel’s representatives for a Certificate of Appropriateness.

Morgan displayed the elevation plans for the project and discussed material selections with the Board.

Morgan said the two prototype renderings of a modern design that Home 2 used elsewhere are stark and use hardy board architecture.

“I did not think they would be well received in a place like Blythewood where citizens care about architecture,” Morgan said. “Instead, we have designed a building covered with Cherokee moss town brick with a pewter colored mortar, hardy board and hardy shake shingles with dark bronze colored metal around the windows,” Morgan explained. “The rich colors create a three-tier approach as opposed to the modern look.”

A feature that seemed to please the commission is a fence between the hotel and the interstate made with brick columns and wrought iron connecting sections.

While Blythewood’s architectural advisor Ralph Walden said the building was well designed with nice features and more interest than the two neighboring buildings, he suggested replacing the hardy plank shakes with a darker brick than the moss town brick.

The motion to approve a COA with changing the hardy shakes to a darker accent brink and to bring the brick up to the top of the first floor passed unanimously.

Town Administrator Brian Cook explained that the approval would be conditioned by staff approval of a final landscaping plan and any required engineering specifics, the inclusion of a fence along the I-77 ramp and Blythewood Road, signage options and by subsequent approval of SCDOT, SCDHEC and Richland County, water/sewer provider and any other applicable reviewing entity.

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