June 25, 2013 in Business

Large convention hotel nearer

Letter of intent moves forward Worthy’s plan for 15-story project
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Worthy
(Full-size photo)

Spokane developer Walt Worthy has signed a letter of intent to buy downtown land as part of his plans to build a 15-story, 700-room Convention Center hotel.

Worthy, who owns the Davenport Hotel, the Davenport Tower and Hotel Lusso, announced nine months ago his big plans to build the new hotel directly south of the INB Performing Art Center and Spokane Convention Center.

The letter is expected to be signed today by Spokane’s Public Facilities District – the public entity that manages the performance facilities.

City officials said Worthy’s letter moves the project – which will fill an entire block – nearer but still doesn’t assure it will happen.

Worthy has held meetings this year with several hotel companies trying to find the one to affiliate with for the project. Worthy has said the new hotel will succeed only by having a branded national company as a partner.

But Worthy has yet to nail down a workable deal with a hotel group; a Davenport Hotel Collection spokesman estimated that deal could take an additional two months.

Worthy has not provided an estimate for the cost of the project, which would easily create the area’s largest single hotel, with 550,000 square feet of rooms, facilities and meeting areas.

The letter with the PFD, however, clarifies several details in the project. Those include:

• Identifying a process by which an assessment of the property will determine the sale price of the land for the hotel. The initial announcement in September left unclear whether the PFD or Worthy’s company would buy the land.

The PFD owns the property after buying it in 2009 for $7 million from a development group led by Glen Cloninger, who died in 2010. The land has surface parking lots and one building along Spokane Falls Boulevard.

• Stating the district will build a skywalk connection from the hotel to the Spokane Convention Center. The skywalk is estimated to cost up to $2 million.

• Guaranteeing up to $500,000 to the Worthy Group for remediation of any hazardous substances found during construction.

• Establishing that Worthy will build 900 parking spaces, with Worthy’s company getting all parking revenue in exchange for an annual payment to the city of $400,000. The PFD would own 300 of the parking spaces.

The hotel is part of a broad and ambitious plan by area officials to make Spokane’s downtown more appealing for major conventions and events. A consultant hired by the PFD said the $65 million expansion of the Convention Center and the proposed hotel will be key factors in drawing more business to the area.

The consultant, Conventional Wisdom Group, said the expanded Convention Center and hotel will draw roughly nine more events each year to the Convention Center and generate roughly 20,000 extra room nights from those conventions.

It also predicted the hotel would host 75 to 100 new events per year.

The expansion involves adding 91,000 square feet to the Convention Center. Voters a year ago approved the $65 million Convention Center expansion, paid for by extending sales tax and hotel room taxes through 2043.

Note: this story was changed after publication to correct the size of the proposed hotel.

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