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Bellingham, Washington Property Would be First to Put These Two Marriott Brands in One Building

By Jared Paben, The Bellingham Herald, Wash.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

September 10, 2009 - BELLINGHAM -- The city has approved a permit for a 204-room Marriott hotel along Northwest Avenue, and the hotel company says it wants to start construction next spring or summer.

The hotel would be two of the Marriott brands joined in one building: TownePlace Suites with 83 rooms and SpringHill Suites with 121 rooms. Together, their 204 rooms would be more than any single hotel in Whatcom County. They would be located along the east side of Northwest Avenue just south of West Bakerview Road.

"They're both going to be business hotels that also will cater to leisure travelers," said Shaiza Damji, managing director of 360 Hotel Group.

This is the first time these two brands have been put into one building, she said.

"The advantage is that you can have nicer amenities: the swimming pool, fitness areas, things like that," she said.

The company will hire about 60 employees to run the hotels, she said, and they plan to hire locally for the positions. She's already receiving e-mails from Bellingham residents who have worked at Marriotts in the past and who want to work there, she said.

"I'm not at all worried about finding a great group of people looking to work for us," she said.

The Bellingham planning department on Aug. 31 approved a planned permit for the five-story building with an under-building parking garage and surface parking (total 204 parking spots). The permit spells out generally what the development will look like, but the company still must get additional permits.

The company, which owns the 3.8-acre property, will leave about one-third of the land untouched wetlands and wetland buffers. It'll also donate to the city 10 feet of right of way along Northwest Avenue so the city can extend the right-turn lane at Bakerview Road south, reducing congestion at the intersection.

360 Hotel Group, which is based in Lynnwood, currently operates three hotels in the Puget Sound area: The Hampton Inn and Suites in Lynnwood, Hotel Nexus in north Seattle, and Best Western Navigator Inn and Suites in Everett. Another one, Staybridge Suites in Mukilteo, is under construction.

The company acquired its first hotel, in north Seattle, in 1976. At the time, it was a three-story Ramada Inn, a roadside motel with an onsite Denny's. The company has transformed it into the "affordable chic" Hotel Nexus, according to the company Web site.

"We're not buy-and-sell people. We're buy or build and hold," Damji said. "We have much more long-term commitment to the communities and to the properties."

They hope to start construction next spring or summer, with the goal of having the hotels open in 2011, she said.

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VIEW THE PERMIT

To see the planned permit for this hotel project, go to this article at TheBellinghamHerald.com.

Reach JARED PABEN at jared.paben@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2289.

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To see more of The Bellingham Herald or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.bellinghamherald.com.

Copyright (c) 2009, The Bellingham Herald, Wash.

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