The city of Chewelah has a nearby ski resort, a golf course, casino and a growing reputation as an arts community.
But the town of 2,635 still lacks a critical tourism amenity: an adequate number of hotel rooms.
“We can attract a lot of people to Chewelah, but we can’t keep them here because we don’t have enough lodging,” Mayor Dorothy Knauss said.
Between three small motels and a few bed and breakfasts, the number of rooms tops out at about 50, she said.
That could change within the next two years. The Spokane Tribe of Indians is recruiting a developer to build a hotel near its Chewelah Casino. Market studies indicate the area could support a 70- to 100-room hotel, according to Mike Tedesco, the tribe’s executive director.
“We think there’s a demand gap that can be filled,” he said.
Ideally, the tribe would like to attract the franchisee of a mid-priced, national chain, such as a Hyatt Place or Holiday Inn Express, Tedesco said. The tribe would lease property to the hotel operator, and is seeking proposals by Sept. 28. The 6-acre development site is about 3 miles south of town on U.S. Highway 395.
Tribal officials will give a presentation on the hotel project to the Chewelah City Council on Sept. 5. Tedesco said construction could start sometime next year if all goes smoothly.
Access to the Colville National Forest and proximity to 49 Degrees North Ski and Snowboard Resort, the Chewelah Golf and Country Club and the 300 slot machines at the Chewelah Casino are listed in the request for proposals. The city is applying with the Washington Arts Commission to be designated as a “Creative Place,” which could help with economic development efforts around the local arts community.
U.S. 395 is the primary route between Spokane and the Canadian border, said Knauss, the mayor. About 10,000 cars pass by the proposed hotel site daily.
After she was elected, Knauss held visioning sessions to help local residents articulate what they wanted to see happen in their town.
“Almost without exception, people said they wanted broadband and they wanted lodging,” she said.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.