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‘Tired hotel’ in Port Royal is being turned into tiny new apartments.


A company with a mission of creating housing it says working people can afford is overhauling an old Port Royal hotel on Ribaut Road into 145 new studio apartments that will rent for $1,000 a month.

El Segundo, California-based Vivo Living, the developer, is a private real estate investment and property management company that specializes in recycling “tired hotels” into apartments with pricing it says is “attainable,” with the goal of solving the nation’s housing crisis.

“We need to be very creative in coming to the table with new types of housing so we can start to fill in the need across the country and find alternatives that aren’t so expensive,” Vivo Living spokesperson Leslie Moody said.

Rents for the studio apartments ranging in size from 228-282-square feet in the former Days Inn at 1660 Ribaut Road — about the size of a college dormitory room — will be $1,000-$1,050, which includes most of the utilities and wireless internet.

“Renovation rather than new construction saves time and money — savings which take the form of lower rents than comparable apartments in the area,” Moody says.

Each unit will include air conditioning, a cook top, cable, stainless refrigerator and a microwave. Additional amenities include fitness and laundry care centers, on-site parking, a pool and co-working space.

A colorful mural painted on the front of the apartments greets visitors. It features a Marine saluting a flag in addition to a Lowcountry scene highlighting wildlife and the water. The apartments are located within a few miles of both Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in Port Royal and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

The $1,000 rent for a studio apartment is an indicator of the high rents across Beaufort County, says Angela Childers, executive director of the Beaufort Housing Authority, which provides affordable housing to low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

“That’s a lot of money for a tiny space,” Childers said, “but, we’ll take what we can get.”

In other markets, $1,050 could buy almost double the floor space of Vivo’s studios in Port Royal and yet Vivo will be offering one of the most-competitive rates in the area, Childers said, adding that some housing at affordable rates is always better than no housing.

Rent for studios at Vivo Living Port Royal will be more than $200 less than the average rent for a studio apartment in Beaufort County, which is $1,267, Vivo Living’s Moody said.

Vivo prices its units to be affordable to those who earn 80% of area median income to make them reasonably priced to the workforce, Moody said.

The hotel-to-apartments conversion project comes amid concerns about the affordability of housing across Beaufort County. says Beaufort County has the fourth most expensive fair market rent in the state.

Last year, Beaufort County, in cooperation with a multitude of the southern Lowcountry’s municipalities, joined together to create a regional housing trust fund. All participating municipalities contribute yearly to the fund, which will then be shared between the entities and used to establish more affordable housing projects.

If the project is successful, then affordable housing projects should become more common across the southern Lowcountry in the next decade.

“We’re pricing ourselves out of being a functioning and inclusive community,” the Housing Authority’s Childers says.

Housing projects that cater to the young workforce are essential to a thriving community, Childers said. When those workers can’t afford to live in the area, they move elsewhere leaving vacancies and staff shortages for many low paying jobs.

Construction is continuing Vivo Living Port Royal, Moody said. The units will available for rent sometime between April and June.

The Port Royal apartments will be Vivo Living’s first project in Beaufort County and the third in South Carolina, with the other properties in Greenville and North Charleston. The company, launched in 2020, now has 25 properties across the country.

“We love to find properties like this former Days Inn which were once great but have fallen into disrepair,” Moody said.

Vivo leverages its renovation expertise and in-house property management to “make obsolete buildings like this one, beautiful and useful again, turning eyesores into critically needed, attainably-priced housing,” Moody said.

Vivo Living also prefers sites where residents can get around the area on foot or bike. And the Port Royal location, Moody noted, is near the Spanish Moss Trail and Sands Beach.