Richland council to consider entering into negotiations to build boutique hotel

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldMarch 31, 2014 

Escape Lodging Hotel

Artist rendering of proposed boutique hotel by Escape Lodging on Columbia Point in Richland

COURTESY ESCAPE LODGING

A new boutique hotel with amenities ranging from spa rooms to an outdoor pool with cabanas could soon come to Columbia Point in Richland.

The Richland City Council is scheduled to consider entering negotiations with Escape Lodging for the project at a meeting tonight.

The hotel, with about 82 guest rooms, is to be "tasteful, timeless and fun at the same time," said Tom Drumheller, Escape Lodging CEO.

The company has several properties in Oregon, including at Cannon Beach. At Columbia Point, it aims to mix the best of its Oregon Coast boutique hotels with features highlighting the region's wine industry, Drumheller told the Herald.

"It will have a 'wine feeling' to it that fits the Northwest very well," he said.

Portland-based Naito Development is partnering with Escape Lodging on the proposed project.

If the council approves negotiations and ultimately signs off on a contract, the hotel will be built on about two acres of city-owned land next to the Anthony's at Columbia Point restaurant.

The hotel site -- along with two other city-owned properties in the Columbia Point Master Plan area -- was the subject of a development proposal request circulated last year. The city envisioned a boutique-style hotel to the west of Anthony's, a restaurant to the east and a mixed-used entertainment area southeast of the Shilo Inn and north of the Columbia Point Golf Course.

It ended up with three proposals from developers -- two for the hotel site and one for the restaurant.

The restaurant proposal fell through. The city's economic development committee and its real estate review committee both liked the Escape Lodging proposal best for the hotel site.

Drumheller has had his eye on building a boutique hotel at Columbia Point for years, but the economy and some other factors made it difficult in the past, he said. Now, "we're looking forward to the opportunity. I'm hoping we can get approval (from the city council) and get to work."

He noted the beauty of the site and its location near the golf course and other amenities.

"With the agriculture, the wine business and everything going on, we just feel there's an opportunity to have something that's different than the chain hotels. We can be unique, very service-oriented, earn people's business over time and treat them well -- and have fun doing it," he said.

Brian Moore, the city's redevelopment project supervisor, said he feels the Escape Lodging proposal best fit the vision for Columbia Point, and it's the strongest one the company has produced for the area.

The city is moving forward to market the restaurant and mixed-use entertainment sites directly to developers, he said.

The city council meeting is at 7:30 p.m. at city hall, 505 Swift Blvd.

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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