Richland boutique hotel one step closer to reality

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldApril 1, 2014 

Escape Lodging Hotel

April 1, 2014 - Artist rendering of proposed boutique hotel by Escape Lodging on Columbia Point in Richland.

COURTESY ESCAPE LODGING

A new boutique hotel at Columbia Point in Richland is a step closer to reality after the city council Tuesday approved entering negotiations with a Cannon Beach-based firm.

The firm, Escape Lodging, has several hotels and other properties in the Northwest. The Columbia Point hotel would have 82 guest rooms, plus spa rooms, a pool and other amenities.

If negotiations are successful, a contract will come back to the city council at a future meeting.

The hotel would bring in an estimated $311,000 annually to the city in tax and lease revenue.

Escape Lodging CEO Tom Drumheller and Bob Naito of Portland-based Naito Development, which is partnering on the project, both attended Tuesday's meeting.

"We're very excited to get going," Drumheller told the Herald.

The city owns the site of the proposed hotel -- about two acres to the west of the Anthony's at Columbia Point restaurant. It also owns land to the east of Anthony's, where city officials have envisioned another restaurant, and property near the Shilo Inn, envisioned as holding a mixed-use entertainment area.

The Escape Lodging proposal was one of two submitted for the hotel site. The other involved expanding the Courtyard by Marriott hotel at Columbia Point, bringing it to 220 rooms.

Expanding the Marriott would allow the hotel to attract larger groups, Kathy Moore, general manager, told the council before its vote.

Marriott has funding ready to go, has a proven track record in the city and is a trusted brand, she said.

The council's vote to enter negotiations with Escape Lodging was made as part of its consent agenda, in which multiple items are approved in a single action. The consent agenda vote was unanimous.

Mayor Dave Rose said after the meeting that he likes Marriott's history with the city and also that its proposal would have brought in more rooms and more tax revenue to the city.

But he's hopeful the Escape Lodging project will work out, he said.

Also Tuesday:

-- The council approved extending the city's moratorium on the production, processing and retail sale of marijuana for another six months. The action will "allow staff the time necessary to complete the zoning process, gather further community input, continue exploring the legal issues and come into alignment with neighboring cities," according to information from the city. Kennewick, West Richland and Pasco all have year-long moratoriums in place.

The Richland council held a public hearing on the extension before taking action, but no one spoke.

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

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