Kennewick hotelier Vijay Patel plans to build a 102-room hotel next to the Three Rivers Convention Center if he can negotiate a deal with the Kennewick Public Facilities District.
The facilities district board decided Thursday that Patel's proposal -- the only one received that met all the qualifications -- will provide the convention center what it has long needed.
"We need an attached hotel to this property. It is something we've needed for a long time," said board president Barb Johnson.
Patel said the hotel would have 102 rooms to start, with more to come in a second phase. It would be built as a stand-alone, multistory SpringHill Suites by Marriott on city-owned land at the north end of the convention center and have a breezeway to connect it to the center.
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Patel, who owns A-1 Hospitality Group, has several other hotels in the Northwest, including the Holiday Inn Express next to TRAC in Pasco and the Fairfield Inn by Marriott in Kennewick, and in Boardman, Hermiston, The Dalles and the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River.
Grinnell Group of Vancouver will be the project contractor. The company has 10 hotel projects or commercial projects under construction in Washington and Oregon.
Patel said the convention center hotel would be a three-star or better facility and would be designed to match and complement the convention center.
The facilities district board authorized Corey Pearson, executive director of the convention center, and board members Kathy Blasdel and John Givens to negotiate with Patel on building the project, with a decision due in 90 days.
Patel said he needs that time to finalize arrangements with Marriott and obtain financing.
"If everything moves smoothly, the hotel will be open in 18 to 20 months," Patel said.
Pearson told the facilities district board he had received seven proposals for building a 50,000-square-foot exhibit hall onto the convention center. He and two board members will narrow that list to no more than three so the board can select one at its June meeting.
The facilities district staff then will negotiate with the finalist about a price for a design-build project that will have the expansion placed on the north end of the convention center.
"These projects (hotel and expansion) need to go hand in hand. They would both benefit by getting online at the same time," Johnson said.
The expansion project is one of four seeking financing through the Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District. That agency board is expected to select one or more of those projects in June or July.
Voters in Kennewick, Pasco and Richland would be asked to approve a sales tax increase to pay for construction of the regional facility.
Pearson also reported that a recent meeting with officials from the Kennewick Irrigation District may lead to the city of Kennewick obtaining a first-rights option to purchase 13.5 acres next to the convention center. That property would provide additional parking that is expected to be needed when the convention center expansion and convention center hotel are built.
-- John Trumbo: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org