Vendue Inn renovations get underway downtown

Work crews removed furniture and started demolition at the Vendue Inn on Monday. Owner Jonathan Weitz (left) said the renovation, which is expected to be completed in March, will transform that area of the city. (Photo/Ashley Barker)

Work crews removed furniture and started demolition at the Vendue Inn on Monday. Owner Jonathan Weitz (left) said the renovation, which is expected to be completed in March, will transform that area of the city. (Photo/Ashley Barker)

By Ashley Barker
abarker@scbiznews.com
Published Nov. 12, 2013

Construction crews began renovating the main building of the Vendue Inn on Monday morning into what the owner said will feel more like a boutique hotel.

The Vendue’s chandeliers were removed and put in storage for the renovation of the inn, which is at the corner of East Bay Street and Vendue Range. (Photo/Ashley Barker)
The Vendue’s chandeliers were removed and put in storage for the renovation of the inn, which is at the corner of East Bay Street and Vendue Range. (Photo/Ashley Barker)

Jonathan Weitz, president of Charleston-based Avocet Hospitality Group and owner of The Vendue, said the $4.8 million renovation is expected to be done by March. The 19 Vendue building will include a more open floor plan, updated bathrooms, a new bar and restaurant where The Library previously stood, a new Rooftop Bar, an entrance on East Bay Street and retail space.

Upon entering the retail space on East Bay Street, guests will be able to walk down a telescoping hallway that leads to the elevator, which will take them to rooms and the rooftop, Weitz said. He said the project, when completed, will dramatically change the corner of East Bay Street and Vendue Range.

“The Vendue is a collection of five warehouses from the 1780s. They basically just cut a doorway through each one. This hotel, in the past, just provided a bedroom and doorway to the city,” Weitz said. “What we’re going to do from a food and beverage perspective, what we’re going to do from a service perspective, we think we’re going to provide a much better guest experience for tourists coming to Charleston. It will be not simply a doorway to the city, but a place where people want to come and spend three or four days.”

During the construction phase, 40 rooms will remain open to guests across the street at 26 Vendue.

Ken Merkel, The Vendue’s general manager, said many of the property’s employees are being retained to maintain the rooms at 26 Vendue and some have been relocated to the owner’s other property. Fewer than 25 employees were laid off, he said.

Traffic is not expected to be impacted by the construction project, which is being managed by LS3P Associates and Hill Construction.

“What we hope to accomplish in historic Charleston is to open up these walls to create a better guest experience but to also discover things that are hidden in the walls that lend to the history of the buildings,” Merkel said. “We’ll stay very traditional with our architecture. We’ll actually make it more historically accurate with shop windows like it was back in the 1800s. It’s very traditional, but with a blend of contemporary that will make it very pleasant experience.”

Reach Ashley Barker at 843-849-3144 or @AshleyNBarker.

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