Hotels, suites, apartments planned for Richland

Two hotels, corporate suites and an apartment complex will be built adjacent to Richland's Horn Rapids Golf Course within the next two years.

Foundations for the more than $110 million project by developer Stew Stone of Salem, Ore., could be poured as soon as January.

The hotels, villas and apartment complex owned by Red Stone Development will be on 35 acres near the fairways of holes 3, 4 and 5 at the golf course, Stone said.

No homes have been built in that area yet. That was on purpose, so that people who buy homes in the future will know that they will be living near the hotels and apartments, Stone said.

Stone, with the company North Stone Richland, is the developer for the master planned community in the golf course area. He had been developing subdivisions and selling the lots to builders for the past eight years through an agreement with the city of Richland.

The area will be approaching 700 homes by the end of the year, he said. The plan included 3,000 dwelling units, but that included multi-family and condos, not just single-family homes.

The hotels, apartments and villas were among the housing planned for in the 1993 master plan, Stone said.

The project will bring the first Embassy Suites Hotel by Hilton to the Tri-Cities, Stone said. The four-story, 165-room resort hotel will have a wine theme, including its own boutique vineyard.

With the growth of the local wine industry and the promise of future growth, it seemed like a perfect match, he said.

The hotel will contract with a local winery to process the grapes into a wine for the exclusive use of the hotel, Stone said. It can be served at the restaurant and given to guests as gifts.

And Stone said he intends to develop tours of local wineries out of the hotel, and try to bring in local wineries for wine tasting at the hotel on a weekly basis.

In the hotel will be a full service restaurant and a 12,000-square-foot conference center, he said.

The hotel also will have a 20,000-square-foot event garden for events such as weddings, car shows and wine events, Stone said.

And nearby will be a second hotel, with 120 rooms meant for extended stays, Stone said.

The Embassy Suites will be for one- to three-night stays, while the extended-stay hotel will be for three to five nights, he said.

And the combination of more than 250 rooms will allow the hotels to attract tourism and business conferences Stone said the Tri-Cities misses out on because it lacks a single hotel where a conference can book that many rooms.

Stone said he sees a demand for all the types of housing the project will offer. When visiting the Tri-Cities, he's had to call three or four hotels before finding a room.

The location is good, close to jobs in the Tri-Cities Research District, Washington State University Tri-Cities, the golf course and wineries, he said.

The 135 corporate villas and 318 apartments will be built at the same time as the hotels.

Stone is hoping to attract professionals to the villas who are in the Tri-Cities for a week to six months. Currently a company rents apartments and homes in the area to cater to those professionals.

This project is an option to create a professional atmosphere that could enhance their stay in the Tri-Cities, Stone said. It will be upscale, with its own clubhouse and athletic facility, tennis courts and a pool.

The second entrance planned for Highway 240 will be the primary entrance for the hotels, said Gary Ballew, Richland's economic development manager. The developer is paying for the entrance and roads within the development.

Stone said they are working on getting the grading and utility site work completed so foundations could be poured after the first of the year. Building permits still need to be applied for, but the site plans have been approved.

Also in the 675-acre Horn Rapids community is a 20-acre commercial area on Kingsgate Way that Ballew said the city is looking at developing. There is interest in opening businesses there, such as a convenience store and gas station, but no one has been interested in putting in the roads, he said.

Having a hotel could help attract players to the privately-owned Horn Rapids Golf Course and bring in other amenities that people want in the area, Ballew said.

With Stone's project, the first of the apartments and villas should be completed by summer 2012, and the hotels will open summer 2013, Stone said.

The project will generate about 1,800 jobs including the two-year construction period, with about 100 of the jobs being permanent on-site jobs, Stone said.