Pat and Mary Lou Hartness are excited about what’s about to happen to their home. But they aren’t sure they can stand to watch.
They gathered under a temporary canopy on their front lawn recently to unveil plans for what happens next to the house and rolling hills where they raised a family. Already underway is the 700-residence Hartness traditional neighborhood development nearby.
The next time workers take shovels and hammers to the property, they will start by causing thoughtful damage to the carefully cultivated Hartness family home en route to making it the centerpiece of a boutique four-star hotel — the Hotel Hartness — with restaurants, bars and a spa.
For Hartness CEO Sean Hartness, it’s an appropriate use for his childhood home.
“As a Greenville family who has lived in this area for four generations, we are excited to turn the family home into a hotel and share it with the community and world at large,” he said. “The home and property have a long history of contributing to the vibrancy and health of the community. We’ve hosted hundreds of community and charity events here since the early 1980s. We look forward to contributing to the community in meaningful ways.”
The plan is to create an independent, non-flagged hotel designed as much for Greenville area residents as it is for out-of-town hotel guests, Sean Hartness said. He and his parents said it was important to them to create a hotel that is a unique and authentic tribute to the place Pat Hartness has cultivated for 50 years.
“Instead of selling the property where my brother and I grew up — and my parents Pat and Mary Lou are here with us today — we’re turning this unique residence into an authentically Greenville asset that is true to the place in which it is located,” he said during the presentation of plans.
Builders will break ground in the next three to five weeks, Sean Hartness said, with completion of the hotel and restaurants expected to be finished in the spring. Spa construction may take a few weeks longer, he said.
The grand old house will look worse before it looks better, he said.
“We’ve enjoyed living here,” Pat Hartness said. “It’s been a great place to raise my two boys. But tomorrow is another day. Mary Lou and I will be moving over in the very middle of the Hartness development. We will be what we are calling smart sizing. We’re cutting square footage out, less property and things to have to take care of. We can wake up and have someone else taking care of what we’re doing now rather than getting out and doing the yard work we have here.”
It’s a lot of yard work.
The Hartness property includes 424 acres of land on the eastern side of Greenville, roughly between Pelham Road and Roper Mountain Road. Pat Hartness managed the property as well as the home-grown Hartness International, a global company born out of the family’s soft drink packaging enterprise.
Pat Hartness said he and his wife will probably “dodge” the hotel development project until it’s complete.
“I think we’ll peek in once in a while, but we’re going to be busy moving into our new house for a while,” Mary Lou Hartness said.
Plans call for a 75,000-square-foot hotel featuring 73 suites, a state-of-the-art conference center and ballroom, outdoor event spaces, a waterside restaurant and a luxury spa. The facilities can host events for up to 300 people indoors and as many as 1,000 outdoors, Sean Hartness said.
The hotel will be managed by Hay Creek Hotels, based in Exeter, N.H.
“We could not be more honored to work on this incredibly exciting project for the Hartness family,” said Norman MacLeod, president and founder of Hay Creek Hospitality. “Hay Creek’s mission as a company is to delight and surprise our customers by capturing and integrating the unique essence of the communities they serve.
“The stunning grounds, richly defined family legacy and welcoming neighborhood setting make this an ideal location for the surrounding community and region to enjoy for many years,” MacLeod said in a news release. “We look forward to this partnership and building on the momentum on this exciting neighborhood development. It will be something very special for Greenville and the entire Upstate.”
The hotel spa will be designed and managed by WTS International, based in Rockville, Md.
“The project will have something for everyone,” Sean Hartness said. “If you live in Greenville, you can dine in this restaurant, hang out at our bars and lounges, or relax in the spa in a park like atmosphere.”