|By Grant Martin, The Island Packet,
Hilton Head Island, S.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 01, 2012--Developers who hope to build a casino and resort in Jasper County unveiled the first rendering Wednesday of what the complex might look like.
Plans include a 400-room luxury hotel, and a conference and event center that could host as many as 2,000 people. The complex would be within the Hilton Head Lakes development on U.S. 278 in Hardeeville.
"We are excited to give the public this first glimpse into our vision for this entertainment resort," said Ralph Teal, managing partner of Hilton Head Lakes. "This truly is transformational and will bring year-round entertainment to the Lowcountry, attracting new tourism dollars and bringing thousands of jobs to the area."
Teal and other proponents of the complex say it would create 2,250 on-site jobs with a total compensation of $92 million a year.
In addition to the casino, the complex would feature a separate building for shopping and dining, which could hold 20 to 30 "high-end" merchants and restaurants, according to the developers.
The 50-acre complex's precise location within the 4,700-acre development remains uncertain. Hilton Head Lakes is divided by U.S. 278, and developers haven't yet determined on which side of the highway the complex would be situated. Before the complex can be built, developers must get approval from Gov. Nikki Haley. The developers hope to bring a formal proposal to her by the end of 2012.
If she endorses it, it would be considered by the federal Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs, a process the developers expect to take six to 18 months.
The rendering was produced by J.K. Tiller Associates, a Bluffton-based architecture firm that has worked with Hilton Head Lakes on past projects.
Joe Brinn, another managing partner of the development, said the rendering is merely an "initial conceptual plan," but it contains several elements the developers are intent on including in the final plans.
The casino's exterior, for example, would not feature ostentatious decorations or neon lights.
It would be constructed in a way, Brinn said, to best fit within the rest of Hilton Head Lakes, where developers hope to build 4,000 residential units.
Another key feature would be the hotel's proximity to water.
Brinn said the water it abuts in the rendering likely would have to be constructed or crafted from a pond already on site.
Artificial bodies of water are already a key element of Hilton Head Lakes; Brinn said workers have doubled the size of the largest lake in the development's southern portion within the past four months, although that does not mean the complex would be built on it. Another water feature will extend from the hotel's entrance, with waterfalls at each end and two bridges for vehicle traffic within the complex.
Brinn said it remained unclear how many spaces the on-site parking lots might accommodate.
He added that the road at the bottom of the rendering is not meant to represent U.S. 278, but instead an existing part of the development's infrastructure.
"The road system on our property is already in place and adequate," he said.
It also remains unclear how close the complex would be to U.S. 278. Brinn said it would likely be removed from the highway, in keeping with what he anticipates to be a sophisticated but unobtrusive development.
Follow reporter Grant Martin at Twitter.com/LowCoBiz.
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