Yellow jonquils are blooming in front of the hotel building and around the square, reminding us of spring and more color and warmth to come. The contract on the hotel which happened over the weekend gives hope, like the flowers, for the future climate of progress for Edgefield.
Mike Bedenbaugh of Preservation South Carolina, the nonprofit group that has held ownership of the Edgefield Hotel/Plantation house, advised The Advertiserover the weekend that a successful negotiation with Eric Richey, Principal of NAF Holdings out of Greenville, has led to a contract to pursue the development of the building as a hotel. The emphasis, in the pursuit by Preservation SC for selling the hotel building, has been focused on it becoming a hotel.
The contract, completed and signed with contingencies this past week (through Weichert Real Estate’s local Edgefield agency), opens the door for NAF Holdings to pursue their interest and do necessary research and data-collecting for satisfying their needs as seen in the contingencies. Those contingencies associated with the contract have to be met in a six-month period.
“I am excited that such a young man (Richey) is seeking to make a mark on the Edgefield Community,” says Bedenbaugh. “It will be our job during this time to meet with stake holders around the town and area and develop a NEED for more overnight capacity in Edgefield.” Mike went on to say, ”Developing these attractions for overnight capacity in Edgefield will depend on stake holders in the community rallying around the possibilities in this need.” This, he explained, meant establishing historic tours and marketing the place for bringing people in for longer stays than a day.
Bedenbaugh said he has met with the Mayor of Edgefield (a stakeholder). Mayor Durham was quick to respond to the excitement of the contract and what it may mean to Edgefield: “This is the spark the town needs to build on going forward.” Mayor Durham went on to point out all the things the Town has done lately – among them, the sidewalks, the signs, the refurbishing of the welcome sign on the Park Row building – all in hopes of Edgefield being ready.
“I have been married to this work of developing the hotel for so long and I am elated it is finally at this point,” said Bedenbaugh. Among the contingencies will be satisfying negotiations of a Preservation Easement held by Preservation SC, that the hotel will always have their nonprofit mission governing how it is restored and maintained by a private owner. Also, a rehabilitation agreement will set a time frame for the restoration of the building. As mentioned before, the contract states 6 months for satisfying contingencies.
Bedenbaugh noted that this is the first step in attracting “the type of intention the building needs and the community deserves.”
Mr. Eric Richey, Principal of NAF Holdings, was contacted upon learning of the signed contract and he gave to the Advertiser an interview on Monday, elaborating first about his earlier visit to Edgefield: “I fell in love with the town!” He first bought a piece of commercial real estate here and then randomly walked into the Weichert (Pendarvis) RE building. There Summers Pendarvis heard his interest in the area and showed him the hotel building. From that visit it sounds as if a vision grew – he could see the hotel as “a ‘front porch’ or, ‘living room’ for the community to gather to eat, to meet for coffee, and to enjoy [each other’s company].” His roots are California but he has been a South Carolinian for a time now; he says that Edgefield is reminiscent of Lexington, VA, where he attended college (W & L).
As for the building, “I love history and old buildings and look forward to renovating the hotel…”. He says what he has envisioned is the hotel “as an anchor in the community,” a draw for people to join together. Also, he noted: “Edgefield is an attraction for people out of the area.” He believes as many do, that this is a time when the Town can take advantage of the greater Augusta-N. Augusta-Aiken area,” acknowledging the growth that is moving in this direction.