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Tri-Cities hotel wars heat up. New $20m project to build near Columbia Center mall

Hotel construction to add 300-plus Tri-City rooms

There is a hotel currently under construction in Kennewick, Pasco and Richland. Collectively, the new properties add 313 new rooms to a market that currently offers 4,191 rooms in the Tri-Cities.
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There is a hotel currently under construction in Kennewick, Pasco and Richland. Collectively, the new properties add 313 new rooms to a market that currently offers 4,191 rooms in the Tri-Cities.

The owner and operator of some of the biggest names in the Tri-City hotel industry will build Kennewick’s first extended-stay hotel near Columbia Center mall.

Ignite Hotels will build a $20 million Residence Inn by Marriott behind the Red Lion Hotel, said Ignite managing member Gurbir Sandhu. Ignite also owns the Red Lion.

He told the Tri-City Herald on Thursday the new four- to five-story hotel will be on a six-acre site off South Quinault Avenue, south of the mall.

Hotel list keeps growing

The new project is the fifth and latest hotel project for the Tri-Cities. Collectively, they will push the market to about 4,700 rooms, from the current 4,200.

Three are already under construction.

A-1 Hospitality Group, led by Taran and Vijay Patel, is building a Courtyard by Marriott at the Tri-Cities Airport.

Spokane-based Hospitality Associates is building a 94-room Comfort Suites at Southridge.

And Bellevue-based West 77 Partners is constructing a 120-room extended-stay WoodSpring hotel in south Richland, near Highway 240.

Last week, the Patels also signed an $85 million deal with the city of Kennewick to expand the Three Rivers Convention Center and develop a seven-story upscale hotel next door.

Competitive market

Sandhu is confident the extended-stay property will flourish in the competitive market.

His company began working on the project a year ago. He expects to finalize the plans with about 90 rooms.

Ignite will submit plans to the city of Kennewick by the end of the year, he said.

Varitone Architecture of Albany, Ore., which also designed the Courtyard project in Pasco, is the designer.

Ignite has secured the land as well as a franchise agreement with Marriott. Financing is pending with a local regional bank.

The company expects to hire a contractor in early 2020 and plans to break ground next spring. The hotel will open in September 2021 and will employ 40.

Extended-stay market

Residence Inn is Marriott’s upscale extended-stay brand. It offers fully furnished apartment-like suites. Nearly half its guests stay for two weeks.

Sandhu said it will serve a different clientele than its neighbors, the Red Lion Hotel to the east and a Fairfield by Marriott, a Comfort Inn and a Quality Inn, all to the west.

“This is a different type of product. We don’t compete for the one- or two-night stays,” he said.

“These are the road warriors who stay in hotels but don’t want to eat out every single day. This is focused on those people,” he said.

Amenities include large rooms and grocery shopping services. Guests can send their shopping lists to the hotel. The in-room refrigerator will be stocked when they arrive.

Sandhu anticipates serving families drawn to sports tournaments, particularly families who want larger rooms and the ability to dine in.

It will be the first extended-stay hotel in Kennewick and one of only a few in the Tri-Cities.

Richland has a Town Place Suites by Marriott at Columbia Point and Pasco has a My Place near the HAPO center, previously known as TRAC.

A WoodSpring hotel is being built on Tapteal Drive near Columbia Center in south Richland.

Ignite has about 500 rooms in the Tri-Cities market.

Its properties including the Red Lion Hotel in Richland, which is being renovated into a Holiday Inn, the Columbia Center Red Lion and a smaller Red Lion near the Toyota Center.

He acknowledged 2019 has been a disappointing year for hoteliers. He attributes it to lack of business during the snowy winter months and a slowdown in convention business.

He’s optimistic the latter will pick up in 2020, but is eager to see the Tri-Cities update its convention center.

“We’re losing a lot of events to Spokane,” he said.

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Wendy Culverwell writes about local government and politics, focusing on how those decisions affect your life. She also covers key business and economic development changes that shape our community. Her restaurant column and health inspection reports are reader favorites. She’s been a news reporter in Washington and Oregon for 25 years.
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