A new Hampton Inn hotel is planned for the Road 68 area in west Pasco.
Kennewick developer Ron Asmus told Franklin County commissioners Wednesday that he has an agreement to build the hotel on property he bought from the county east of Cousins' Restaurant in 2006.
The hotel will have between 105 and 121 rooms, he said.
"We've been aggressively going forward," he said.
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The county has been pressuring Asmus to build there for years. The initial contracts he and two other land buyers in the TRAC area signed with the county required them to build something on the property or risk having the county take it back after five years.
The county granted Asmus an extension in 2012 that would have given him until 2018 to develop the property, but rescinded that decision a week later, said Bill Davis, a Kennewick attorney hired by the county on the issue.
Davis sent Asmus letters in April and June and called him in July, with no response, Davis told the Herald. Asmus finally responded after receiving a letter that was served Aug. 4.
"The county is pretty generous about extending these clauses, but finally got to the point it did not want to extend them anymore," Davis said.
Still, Davis said the county wants to see the hotel built so it can bring in more property tax money.
Asmus has been closely working with Troy Woody, general manager of the nearby TRAC facility, to bring the "best fit" with the event center, he said.
"That was his preferred choice, if we could get a Hampton Inn," Asmus said of Woody.
Work compacting bad soil at the site still needs to be done before construction can start, Asmus said.
The county is not trying to complicate things for Asmus, but it has a duty to taxpayers, Commissioner Brad Peck said.
Hilton Worldwide, Hampton Inn's parent company, did not return calls Wednesday.
The Hampton Inn on Bradley Boulevard in Richland, which has rooms for around $150 a night, is the only one in the Tri-Cities. There is also a Hampton Inn in Walla Walla.
Hilton also has a Homewood Suites in Richland and a Hilton Garden Inn in Kennewick.
A MyPlace Suites hotel is under construction south of Rodeo Drive from Asmus' property, on 2.1 acres the county sold to Mohinder and Gurdish Sohal in 2006. The Sohals sold the property to South Dakota-based MyPlace in May for $901,485.
The owner of the remaining piece of property, located south of MyPlace, is looking to work out a deal with the county because of limited access to the 2.1-acre site, Davis said.
"The county is really trying to work with these people," he said.
w Commissioners approved allowing TRAC to hire a banquet manager for the remainder of the year, which will add $2,611 to TRAC's budget. The existing banquet manager recently was moved to a sales position, Woody said. He has since signed $16,000 in new contracts and is working on securing much more.
But that leaves the need for a new banquet manager, Woody said.
Commissioners also questioned Woody about his statements that TRAC is forecast to lose $477,000 in 2014, which he said would be its largest loss since it opened in 1995.
Commissioner Rick Miller, who said he thought he remembered the facility having a larger loss, wants to see management think "outside the box" in bringing in events.
"I just think we need to focus on bringing in more activities," he said.
Peck said Woody's claim that TRAC only costs each Franklin County resident $8.58 isn't all it is cracked up to be.
"If you're a family of six, it's like 50 or 60 bucks," he said. "If you include several facilities, it can be quite a burden."
TRAC has been good for the area, despite contributing to traffic near Road 68, Commission Chairman Bob Koch said.
"TRAC has definitely been a benefit for Pasco with everything it's brought out there since it was established," he said.
-- Commissioners approved the purchase of a $52,930 box culvert for replacing a bridge on Birch Road, a mile west of Taylor Flats Road. The road will be closed for three to four weeks while the bridge is replaced.
-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom