When Bill Kennedy has an idea evolve into a passion, he acts.
In Steve Wich and David Warriner he found two like minds willing, with an assist from Centennial Bank, to turn Kennedy’s passion to reality,
And with next week’s 11 a.m. ET Wednesday groundbreaking of the Port Cottages, to be located on State Road 71 adjacent to the Buy Rite Drugs in Port St. Joe, the journey marks another milestone.
“I think it will work,” said Warriner of a concept by which Wich and Kennedy will build six cottages that will become part of the inventory of Tapper and Company, which owns the Port Inn near the Port Cottages. “I’m excited. It’s just nice to see some positive development in downtown.
“It’s a cool idea. We could use a few more quality rooms in town.”
Kennedy’s idea, at least architecturally, was derived from, for lack of a more apt term, Katrina houses built in New Orleans. Kennedy had also vacationed in Steinhatchee in one of a series of what are essentially Southern row houses with charm by the ladle-full.
Kennedy’s vision was something that provides the appearance and atmosphere of a beach house combined with the amenities of a hotel, in this case provided by the Port Inn.
Think the cabins at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park with a splash of luxury.
“This is hybrid,” Kennedy said. “There will be an urban feel to the houses, up close to the sidewalks. When you look at national trends, people have really trended to smaller houses. These will have more of a resort feel.
“It’s like a beach vacation rental in that you have all the amenities and it is like a hotel in that you have easy access to restaurants, businesses, the boat ramp and everything the city offers.”
He scouted locations, but the site on State Road 71 was ideal for several reasons, most importantly it was zoned commercial to allow the development. The land is also situated in the proper flood zone, Kennedy said, compared to more coastal property he had researched.
Each cottage, there will be six built on the half-acre lot, will be 600 square feet.
They will have two bedrooms, one-and-a-half bathrooms and will be fully furnished with all needed appliances for the kitchen and laundry.
The cottages will have all hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, marble countertops and flat screen televisions in the master bedroom and living room
“We are going for a higher-end finish on these,” Wich said.
Relatively new to the county, Wich is now a full-time resident and, Kennedy said, “entrepreneur” who had experience with rental properties, was community-minded and attended the same church.
He was a natural for Kennedy to take his idea to and Wich saw an opportunity, not only for the partnership but the community.
“I want to do anything to get the community back on track,” Wich said. “I think this is a great addition to the local business community. We’re going to have our people in town, bringing in new tax revenue. And as further development occurs … this is something we might look at (elsewhere).”
With Wich onboard, Kennedy spoke to Warriner about how Kennedy might market the cottages. Warriner mentioned a possible partnership with the Port Inn.
The Port Inn, Warriner noted, had inherited a similarly-sized cottage with the purchase of the Chateau Nemours last year and said that cottage “fit in seamlessly with our inventory.”
In effect, the Port Inn is the front desk, housekeeping and maintenance for the Port Cottages.
“The Port Inn will be their point of contact,” Warriner said. “Our staff is going to be their staff. They will use our housekeeping, we’ll have the same key system, we have a heated pool, they will also have a pool. Their guests will have access to everything guests of the Port Inn do, bicycles, breakfast, the Thirsty Goat.”
Kennedy said, “We actually changed the architectural design to more match the Port Inn.”
Construction will begin immediately after next week’s groundbreaking. The Port Cottages are scheduled to be finished sometime in the spring of 2013.